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Serdar strike lifts Schalke clear of relegation zone

Berlin (AFP) – Suat Serdar’s first-half goal earned Schalke a hard-fought 1-0 win in their crucial relegation showdown with fellow Bundesliga strugglers Hanover on Sunday. 

The win broke an eight-game winless run in all competitions for Schalke, and saw them leapfrog Augsburg to go six points clear of the bottom three.

“The win means a lot to me personally because it was my first goal for Schalke, but the team is the most important thing. We fought until the very last second of the game,” Serdar told Sky.

Hanover, meanwhile, were plunged deeper into the relegation mire and are now bottom of the table, two points adrift of Nuremberg.  

Though chances were few and far between, both goalkeepers were called into action in the first half.

Schalke keeper Alexander Nuebel denied Henrik Weydandt with a flying save, while his opposite number Michael Esser palmed away Benjamin Stambouli’s effort at the other end. 

Yet the opener, which arrived shortly before half-time, seemed to come from nowhere. Stambouli suddenly found Serdar unmarked with a cross from the right. The 21-year-old fired the ball across Esser and into the far corner. 

Hanover substitute Florent Muslija clipped the bar with a long range effort in the second half, and striker Nicolai Mueller forced another reflex stop from Nuebel. 

But Serdar’s goal, Schalke’s first under first under interim coach Huub Stevens, remained the decisive moment in a scrappy game. 

Stevens, who took the reins at Schalke for a third time after Domenico Tedesco was fired earlier this month, celebrated a 100th victory in charge of the club. 

“I didn’t realise it was my 100th, but a win is a win. In the situation we are in, you have to fight, and the lads did that fantastically today,” he told Sky.

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