Schalke 04 vs. 1. FC Köln: Conceded goal, as if painted for the relegation battle

Goals by standings: After half an hour, Schalke’s goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann only half-fisted a corner, Cologne’s Dominick Drexler shot the ball from the left-hand position into the six-yard box – aiming for the corner flag. But then Rafael Czichos kept his head in the attempt and scored the 1-0 for the guests (31st minute). A goal worthy of the relegation battle. It shouldn’t be the only one …

The result: Schalke 04 remain bottom of the Bundesliga table and lost 1: 2 (0: 1) against 1. FC Köln on matchday 17. Read the game report here.

Where’s the hunter? The 37-year-old Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is the bearer of hope in the relegation battle after his return from Ajax Amsterdam to Gelsenkirchen. Against Cologne, calf problems prevented him from participating. “He is not one hundred percent resilient, the risk is too great for me,” said coach Christian Gross before the encounter at Sky.

The first half: Schalke initially struggled against Cologne’s 5-3-2. FC goalkeeper Timo Horn only had to intervene for the first time in the 26th minute when Amine Harit shot. Cologne gave away good counter-opportunities before (Jonas Hector, 15th minute) and after (Ondrej Duda, 35th) the goal by Czichos. Kingsley Ehizibue gave away the 2-0 in front of Ferryman (37th), before Matthew Hoppe spoiled the hosts’ last chance in the first half (45th).

Standards sind Standard: The fact that the pulse should go up with a Cologne standard is Bundesliga knowledge for beginners. They had scored six of their 13 goals this season so far, after Fährmann’s mistake it was seven out of 14. A nice 50 percent rate that the Cologne team broke with the 15th goal of the season later in stoppage time. But they should be able to cope with that given the three points.

The second half: First Schalke’s Ozan Kabak hit the post of his own goal in a failed rescue attempt (54th), then the young American Matthew Hoppe met for the fifth time in the last three games (57th). But this hit was also slapstick: the Cologne team actually had the ball three times in their own penalty area, but each time they gave it back. Compensation!

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The decision: The 1: 1 lasted into stoppage time, but then the hosts tripped the ball on the catastrophic underground while moving forward. Here, too, there would have been a chance for a slight clarification, but Elvis Rexhbecaj, who was substituted in the 72nd minute, was allowed to serve Jan Thielmann, who came on the field in the 88th minute. The 18-year-old stayed cool and turned into the left corner (90th + 3).

Cologne breathes again: 15 points after 17 games is not a balance for orgies of jubilation. But last Saturday at 3:30 p.m. FC was only four points from a direct relegation zone. After the 0-0 win against Hertha BSC and the 2-1 win at Schalke, there are now eight points ahead with which to start the second half of the season. Markus Gisdol’s team acted more consistently away (twelve points from eight games) than at home. So it is a good thing that it will continue on Sunday (6 p.m.) in Hoffenheim.

The series lasts: Schalke 04 are Cologne’s favorite opponents in the Bundesliga: There were 37 wins against S04, more than against any other top division club. It was currently the seventh game in a row without a defeat in this duel. The next meeting could be a very special one: On the 34th matchday, FC welcomes Schalke. After today’s performance, one can confidently assume that there could be a great deal at stake for both teams.

Royal gray in the table: One win, seven points, last. The brief euphoria after the 4-0 win in the second game under coach Gross against Hoffenheim has evaporated again after two defeats. Now the focus is on Huntelaar, who is supposed to direct it in the final months of his career. The short-term prospects are bleak: On Sunday, S04 welcomes FC Bayern Munich (3:30 p.m.; TV: Sky; live ticker

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