Berlin (AFP) – Schalke 04 continued their rise up the Bundesliga table on Sunday as striker Eric Choupo-Moting atoned for a penalty miss by netting in their 3-1 comeback win against Darmstadt.
Having been bottom of the table after losing their first five games — the worst start to a season in the club’s history — the result left Schalke eighth and unbeaten in their last 11 games in all competitions.
“It’s a lot of fun playing in this team,” Choupo-Moting told Sky.
“It’s the first time we have turned things around after going behind and we haven’t lost for a while now.”
Markus Weinzierl’s side will face a stern test of their renewed form when they visit Bundesliga leaders RB Leipzig, who won 4-1 at Freiburg on Friday to stay three points clear of Bayern Munich, next weekend.
Cameroon’s Choupo-Moting showed his class in Gelsenkirchen by redeeming himself for a missed first-half penalty.
After setting up Schalke’s equaliser in the opening period, the 27-year-old made it 2-1 midway through the second half before Alessandro Schoepf grabbed their third on 90 minutes.
Darmstadt took the lead at Schalke’s Veltins Arena when midfielder Marcel Heller poached the opening goal with just six minutes gone.
But Schalke roared back with the equaliser when Darmstadt lost the ball on the edge of their own area and Choupo-Moting fired in a cross which Bosnia defender Sead Kolasinac headed home from close range on 26 minutes.
The hosts should have doubled their tally barely a minute later when Germany international Leon Goretzka was fouled in the area, but Choupo-Moting failed with his penalty attempt.
He fired his spot-kick at the feet of the diving Darmstadt goalkeeper Michael Esser and the ball rebounded to safety.
“I thought he’d dive to the side, so I hit the ball down the middle, but it didn’t work the way I wanted it to,” Choupo-Moting explained.
“That sort of thing does stay on your mind, but it helps if you score afterwards.”
The Cameroon forward then showed lightning reactions to slip his marker when attacking midfielder Max Meyer fired in a cross and Choupo-Moting tapped his shot past Esser on 60 minutes.
It was his third league goal of the season and he could have added another when he fired wide of the post with 14 minutes left.
Austria’s Schoepf added Schalke’s third with some good finishing after a chip over the Darmstadt defence from Ukraine international Yevhen Konoplyanka just before the final whistle.
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