Berlin (AFP) – Uruguayan striker Rodrigo Zalazar smashed a late winner in off the bar as Schalke came from two goals down to beat St. Pauli 3-2 and win promotion back to the Bundesliga on Saturday.
Zalazar turned Gelsenkirchen’s Veltins Arena into a madhouse when he scored against former club Pauli to complete a dramatic comeback and return Schalke to the top flight.
Two points clear at the top of the German second division at kick-off, Schalke needed a win to secure promotion with a game to spare and in front of their own fans.
They looked set for disappointment when Igor Matanovic scored two early goals to put the visitors 2-0 up after just 17 minutes.
The hosts fought back in the second half, however, with Simon Terodde first converting a penalty and then pouncing on a defensive error to bring his side level.
St. Pauli’s Marcel Beifus missed a golden chance to restore the lead before Zalazar’s brilliant strike completed a brilliant comeback to send 60,000 Schalke fans into ecstasy.
St Pauli capitulated in the dying minutes, as both Beifus and Matanovic were sent off.
The win takes Schalke back to the Bundesliga at the first attempt after they were relegated for the first time in 33 years last season.
Defeat effectively buries St. Pauli’s own promotion hopes, but the race for the second automatic promotion place and the play-off spot remains on a knife edge.
On Saturday evening, Hamburg, Darmstadt and Werder Bremen were all level on 57 points each in second, third and fourth.
Bremen can jump to second with a win at Erzgebirge Aue on Sunday, before the final round of games next weekend.
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