Head coach Domenico Tedesco made two changes to the side that beat BFC Dynamo 2-0 last weekend. Benjamin Stambouli sat out of the match following his red card suspension from last season, while Guido Burgstaller was forced to miss the match with a foot injury sustained on Friday. Naldo, who has recovered from his injury, and Franco Di Santo replaced them in the starting XI, while Leon Goretzka also slotted in for Weston McKennie.
Bentaleb converts from the penalty spot
The visitors started the much better side and tried to put Schalke under pressure early on with their quick passing game. But the Royal Blues defence held strong and slowly grew into the game, creating more and more chances. However, Leipzig keeper Peter Gulacsi had no problems dealing with a Goretzka header and long-range Bentaleb strike.
The breakthrough came two minutes before the break, when Franco Di Santo charged into the box and was brought down by Dayot Upamecano. The referee immediately pointed to the spot and Bentaleb stepped up confidently to hammer the ball into the top corner to give Schalke the half-time lead.
Konoplyanka wraps up the win with lightning-quick counter
Schalke continued to look for the all-important second goal in the second half, though the visitors naturally also pushed higher up in search of an equaliser. But, just as in the first period, Naldo and his troops stood strong to deny the Leipzig barrage.
The Royal Blues waited for their chance to pounce on the visitors‘ mistakes and the reward eventually came in the 73rd minute. Amine Harit regained possession and sent Yevhen Konoplyanka down the line with a sumptuous pass, before curled in expertly past Gulacsi to extend the lead to 2-0. Ralph Hasenhüttl’s team refused to give up in search of the unlikely equaliser, but were unable to break down the Royal Blues defence.
Solid in defence
It was a deserved win for Schalke thanks to a fluid team performance. Each player worked well with those around him and gave little away to last season’s runners up. In addition, Tedesco men showed that they were more than capable of taking their chances when presented with them.
Next up for the Royal Blues is a trip to Hannover 96 on Sunday (27.08) at 18:00 (CEST) in the HDI Arena.