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Lucky Schalke edge Gladbach to go fourth

Lucky Schalke edge Gladbach to go fourth

BERLIN: Schalke 04 needed Leon Goretzka’s late deflected winner and an own goal to snatch a 2-1 win against Borussia Moenchengladbach on Friday and leapfrog them into fourth place as the pursuit of a Champions League spot intensified in the Bundesliga.

The Ruhr valley club, whose goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann was in outstanding form with a string of key saves, moved past Gladbach into the fourth and final Champions League qualifying berth on 44 points, leaving the visitors two points behind in fifth with seven games remaining.

They are also just one point adrift of third-placed Hertha Berlin, who were hosting Ingolstadt on Saturday.

Gladbach had enough gilt-edged chances to secure victory but they were either denied by Faehrmann, who was again overlooked for a Germany call-up earlier on Friday, or missed the target.

“Ralf Faehrmann did very well, it’s true, but there’s no way we should have lost the game,” ‘Gladbach’s Yann Sommer said of his counterpart. “It wasn’t to be.”

Max Meyer had Schalke’s first real chance but Sommer was equal to it in the 37th.

Faehrmann, who had twice denied Raffael, saved Lars Stindl’s effort from the resulting counterattack and produced a point-blank block to thwart Stindl again.

Thorgan Hazard called the Schalke goalkeeper into action again after the interval, and the visitors were left to rue missed chances when Schalke went ahead on the hour with Martin Hinteregger sending the ball into his own net after an inadvertent pinball exchange with team mate Havard Nordtveit after a Leroy Sane cutback.

It was Austria international Hinteregger’s second own goal in nine matches for the Foals.

Mahmoud Dahoud almost pulled the visitors level with a thundering 20-metre effort that bounced off the bar before Andreas Christensen, on loan from Chelsea, equalised in the 79th minute after combining with Stindl.

However, a wicked deflection four minutes later gave Schalke an unexpected win with Granit Xhaka turning his back on Goretzka whose shot skidded off the back of the Swiss international for the winner.

“We played a great game, especially in the first half,” said ‘Gladbach coach Andre Schubert, whose side had 22 goal attempts compared to the home side’s six. “With the chances we had [the result] is quite curious ... We were very unlucky.”

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2016

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