Berlin (AFP) – Bundesliga strugglers Schalke earned an important three points as captain and goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann was dropped for Sunday’s 2-1 win over Wolfsburg — a month before their Champions League last 16 tie against Manchester City.
The 30-year-old Faehrmann, who has made 228 appearances for Schalke, was replaced by Germany Under-21 goalkeeper Alexander Nuebel for the club’s first league game after the winter break.
“That was a relief to get the win,” said Daniel Caligiuri, who scored both goals before admitting the decision by coach Domenico Tedesco to drop Faehrmann caught the team off guard.
“It was a shock for us, Ralf is our captain, but was a bit unsure in the last few games — we’ll have to see what happens now.”
Right-back Caligiuri gave the hosts the lead by converting a penalty after eight minutes, but Wolfsburg drew level midway through the first half when midfielder Elvis Rexhbecaj beat Nuebel.
Schalke ensured the win, which keeps them seven points away from the bottom three, when US midfielder Weston McKennie picked out Caligiuri on the right and the 31-year-old hit the net against his former club Wolfsburg, who are sixth.
Despite having qualified for the Champions League’s knock-out phase, Schalke, last season’s runners-up in Germany, remain just above the relegation places after losing nine of their 18 league games.
They host Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in Gelsenkirchen on February 20 with the return leg on March 12.
– Dortmund stay six clear –
On Saturday, leaders Borussia Dortmund stayed six points clear at the top with a 1-0 win at RB Leipzig, thanks to Axel Witsel’s first-half goal, in a commanding away performance without captain and playmaker Marco Reus.
Defending champions Bayern Munich, who are chasing a seventh straight league title, remain second after an impressive 3-1 win at Hoffenheim on Friday as Leon Goretzka scored twice.
Earlier on Sunday, veteran striker Vedad Ibisevic helped break Hertha Berlin’s five-game winless streak with a hand in all three goals in their 3-1 victory at bottom side Nuremberg.
Hertha earned their first win since December 8 to go seventh in the table as Ibisevic, 34, who is out of contract in June, showed his experience with a commanding performance in icy conditions.
The Bosnia and Herzegovina international gave Hertha the lead after he quickly exchanged passes with strike partner Davie Selke and steered his shot past Nuremberg goalkeeper Christian Mathenia after 15 minutes for his seventh league goal this season.
The hosts drew level just before the break when midfielder Hanno Behrens stabbed home a long-range shot from Eduard Loewen from the edge of the box.
However, Ibisevic made sure of the three points by steering a cross from the right into the path of Ondrej Duda, who restored Hertha’s lead five minutes after the break.
Duda netted his second goal on 70 minutes when Ibisevic let a pass from Selkie fall to the Slovakia midfielder who crashed home his ninth goal of the season.
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