Schalke and Leverkusen had the same goal inside each of the players and coaches’ minds, they wanted to secure their ticket back to European’s football top-table for the next season. And the loss of Schalke over Leverkusen on Saturday evening (21/3) reinforcing their struggle to qualify for the Champions League next season.
Champion League qualification games is essential for a club like Schalke who has finished in the top-four for the past three seasons. The coach, Roberto Di Matteo, was quite certain that his men were going to win the game as points have been collected consistently at the Veltins-Arena. “Our home record is good and our fans really get behind us,” he said. Schalke has lost just once at home out 10 games since Di Matteo was appointed. It made the coach and the lineup sure that they will win the game and secure their opportunity to get back to Champion League in the next season. For the game Di Matteo had branded the game a six-pointer with his side keen to close the gap on their opponent, Leverkusen.
Schalke started the match well with Klass-Jan Huntelaar taking the first opportunity with Bernd Leno making an instinctive save. Leverkusen gave a counter attack with Stefan Klessing’s header which giving Timon Wellenreuther a big chance to do something inside the Schalke goal, and he claimed the ball at the second time.
Kevin-Prince Boateng was sent to the field for another Schalke player, Lero Sane, who did not seem to be carrying an injury. His appearance did seem to give more live for the team and he tried to give pressure with a volley which Leno saved with 20 minutes remaining. Boateng was claiming a penalty shortly after when his shot struck Roberto Hilbert on his arm, but the referee stated that it was not an intentional block and giving much disappointment for Boateng and the home fans.
Leverkusen kept themselves on the front foot by forcing their opponent to drop as the game rolled on. The coach made two changes at the break by introducing Omer Toprak and Hakan Calhanoglu to the fray. Leverkusen kept on pressing the host, but Schalke showed no signs of surrendering, until Karim Bellarabis’ 11th goal of the season proved to be the match-winning effort for Leverkusen.
Roberto Di Matteo should take the reality that Bayer Leverkusen was the one who grabbed the chance return to Bundesliga as they defeat his men with 0-1 win. Karim Bellarabi’s goal 10 minutes before half-time was enough to erase the Champion League disappointment of Roger Schmind’s men. Leverkusen successfully establishing a six-point gap between the two clubs in the race for a top-four finish.