"The draw was a fair result," said Lars Bender after the game. "We started the game well but lost our way a little. After going 1-0 down we were still up for it and were able to come back into the game. We have to be happy with a point today."
Head coach Heiko Herrlich made four changes to the team that lined up for the 3-0 victory over Hamburg. Benny Henrichs, Julian Baumgartlinger, Leon Bailey and Admir Mehmedi were replaced in the starting eleven by Panos Retsos, Lars Bender, Julian Brandt and Karim Bellarabi.
"The lads are keen and want to carry on where they left off against HSV," said Herrlich before the match. The Werkself had won the previous three games at Schalke.
Bayer 04 took the initiative early on again on Friday night as they moved the ball well. In contrast, the Royal Blues where very hesitant at the start. Almost all of the action in the first 15 minutes was in the Schalke half. However, the Black and Reds were unable to get into dangerous areas. The crowd had to wait until the 24th minute for the first real chance on goal. The former Leverkusen player Bastian Oczipka hit a shot just wide of the target. Otherwise there was little to report at either end. It was no surprise the opening goal came from a set piece.
Referee Guido Winkmann awarded a free-kick to Schalke following a challenge from Karim Bellarabi on Amine Harit. Goretzka curled the ball round the wall from 23 yards out into the right corner of the net to give the hosts the lead on 34 minutes. A setback out of the blue for the Werkself who had more of the game up to that point.
The next chance for the Royal Blues fell to Yevhen Konoplyanka two minutes after the opener – Bernd Leno was alert and he parried the shot from the Ukrainian on 36 minutes. Bayer 04 also created some promising chances. The Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann First saved a free-kick from Kevin Volland on 40 minutes and kept out a volley from Julian Brandt just before half-time.
Heiko Herrlich brought on Leon Bailey and Kai Havertz for the second half in place of Charles Aránguiz and Karim Bellarabi. And the visitors made a promising start to the second 45. Four minutes after the restart, Wendell put through a great pass to Lucas Alario but Fährmann was in the right spot again.
The Royal Blues continued to pose a threat at the other end. It was fortunate for Bayer 04 that Goretzka hit the ball over the bar from six yards out on 56 minutes. Lars Bender suffered a blood injury to his head leading to treatment for several minutes but he returned to the pitch demonstrating his steely quality. And almost as soon as he was back, the 28-year-old set up the equaliser with a fine pass to Bailey. The Jamaican broke into the middle from the right and fired in first Bundesliga goal for Bayer 04 on 61 minutes. Matija Nastasic touched the ball and his deflection meant Fährmann was left helpless.
The encounter became more heated at that point. Referee Winkmann twice consulted the video evidence. Once when Alario appeared to make it 2-1 for the Werkself on 70 minutes before the goal was chalked off due to the Argentinian being offside. The game was interrupted again shortly after that: Oczipka kicked Havertz on the touchline when he was on the deck and that led to an excited scrum. Oczipka was shown the yellow card..
The match was wide open with chances on both sides. Alario headed the ball just over the bar on 74 minutes and Leno saved a header from Aldo and a shot from Guido Burgstaller on 85 minutes. Bailey tested Fährmann with a free-kick two minutes later and he was involved again in added time in an impressive move when he beat two Schalke players in the box but was unable to find his way past Fährmann. The match ended all square at 1-1. "We are happy to earn a first point away from home after two away defeats – and at Schalke to boot," said Herrlich after the game. "In the end it was a battle between two attacking sides."
After the international break, the Werkself are back in action on Sunday 15 October with a home game against VFL Wolfsburg. The match kicks off at 15.30 CET.
Schalke 04: Fährmann - Kehrer, Naldo, Nastasic - D. Caligiuri, McKennie (Meyer 90') , Oczipka - Goretzka - Harit, Konoplyanka (di Santo 84') - Embolo (Burgstaller 53').
Bayer 04: Leno - Retsos, Tah, S. Bender, Wendell - L. Bender, Aránguiz (Havertz 46') - Bellarabi (Bailey 46'), Brandt (Kohr 82') - Volland, Alario.
Goals: 1-0 Goretzka (34'), 1-1 Bailey (61')
Booked: Oczipka, Nastasic - Alario, Wendell, Havertz
Referee: Guido Winkmann (Kerken)
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