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Leverkusen plunge Schalke deeper into crisis

Berlin (AFP) – Lucas Alario’s first-half goal secured a 2-1 victory for Bayer Leverkusen and plunged Schalke deeper into crisis in a cagey clash between the Bundesliga’s two underperforming teams on Wednesday.

The pressure has been mounting on both Heiko Herrlich and Domenico Tedesco in recent weeks, but it was Leverkusen coach Herrlich who emerged the happier man on Wednesday as his side ground out a valuable three points to maintain their footing in mid-table.

Schalke, meanwhile, remain just a point above the relegation play-off place, having won just one of their last six league games.

There were already 24 minutes on the clock by the time the first major chance fell. Schalke’s Benjamin Stambouli lost the ball in his own half, allowing Dominik Kohr a free run at goal.

The opener soon followed for Leverkusen, as Leon Bailey struck a curling shot against the post and Aleksandar Dragovic prodded in the rebound.

Alario doubled the lead less than ten minutes later, swivelling on the edge of the box to send a low volley underneath Ralf Faehrmann.

Having looked helpless for much of the first half, Schalke were given a glimmer of hope on the stroke of half-time when Haji Wright bundled the ball in at a corner to pull a goal back.

Yet the hosts wasted several chances to draw level in the second half, as Leverkusen sat back to defend the lead. Steven Skrzybski missed the target from close range, while Yevhen Konoplyanka skewed wide.

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