BERLIN – Goals by strikers Franco di Santo and Guido Burgstaller sealed Schalke 04’s 2-0 win over Hamburg on Sunday as the Royal Blues climbed to second place in the Bundesliga.
Under 32-year-old head coach Domenico Tedesco, Schalke are unbeaten in seven games dating back to September, and the home win in Gelsenkirchen moved them second behind leaders Bayern Munich.
“It’s a great moment for the whole team, we have worked really heard in the last few weeks,” said Schalke midfielder Max Meyer.
Schalke took the lead at the sold-out Veltins Arena in front of 62 271 supporters when Ukraine midfielder Yevhen Konoplyanka was fouled in the area, and Di Santo converted the resulting penalty on 17 minutes.
Hamburg had an appeal for handball against Schalke defender Thilo Kehrer turned down by the video assistant referee (VAR) just after the break.
The hosts sealed the deserved win after some good work in the area when Konoplyanka found Burgstaller in space, and the Austrian international fired home from close range 12 minutes from time.
This was an efficient, if uninspiring display from Schalke, who defended doggedly and will be buoyed for next Saturday’s derby at arch rivals Borussia Dortmund, who have dropped to fifth after collecting just one point from a possible 15.
“We are just taking it one game at a time,” added Meyer.
“We won’t be favourites in Dortmund, and it’ll be a 50-50 game.”
Hamburg are just above the relegation places, but at the other end of the table Schalke and RB Leipzig are six points behind defending champions Bayern, who beat Augsburg 3-0 in Munich on Saturday as Robert Lewandowski scored twice.
The Poland forward has now scored 17 goals for the Bavarians this season.
He has also netted 18 times against Augsburg for both Bayern and his former club Borussia Dortmund.
Germany striker Max Kruse netted a hat trick as Werder Bremen picked up their first win of the season on Sunday in emphatic style with a 4-0 thrashing of mid-table Hanover 96.
Kruse set up his forward partner Fin Bartels for the opening goal in Bremen, then wrapped up his hat trick inside 23 minutes in the second half, with Bartels twice laying on the assist.
It is the first time Kruse has scored since breaking his collarbone in October.
The result leaves Bremen still in the bottom three, but is a timely boost for caretaker coach Florian Kohfeldt, 35, in only his second game since taking charge when Alexander Nouri was sacked at the end of October.