Ten-man Schalke draw blank ahead of Man City clash
17 Feb 2019
Berlin: Schalke 04 warmed-up for the Champions League visit of Manchester City with a goalless draw at home to fellow Bundesliga strugglers Freiburg on Saturday.
Schalke are winless in their last three Bundesliga games and sit just above the relegation places in 14th spot.
Next up is a huge challenge at home to Pep Guardiola's Premier League giants Man City in their Champions League last 16, first-leg tie on Wednesday.
Schalke qualified for the Champions League by finishing runners-up to Bayern Munich last season, but despite dreadful recent results, Schalke head coach Domenico Tedesco says they are ready to host City.
"We deserve to have got this far," Tedesco insisted after Schalke won half their games to finish second behind Porto in their Champions League group.
"We have to prepare well and everyone needs to be at 100 percent. We believe we have a chance -- otherwise there would be no point playing."
Both Schalke and Freiburg finished with ten men as the Royal Blues played for nearly 50 minutes without defensive midfielder Suat Serdar, sent off for a first-half foul.
In the dying stages, Freiburg defender Christian Guenter was dismissed for a second yellow card.
"Regardless of the red card (Serdar), we didn't do what we wanted to do which was to put pressure on the Freiburg goal," said Tedesco.
Schalke came close to conceding a penalty with 10 minutes left when Spanish midfielder Omar Mascarell was suspected of a handball, but the video assistant referee (VAR) over-ruled the referee's initial decision.
Welsh teenage winger Rabbi Matondo, who Schalke signed last month from Man City, struggled to make an impact on only his second Bundesliga appearance, his first over 90 minutes.
The 18-year-old had a good chance with 16 minutes left but ballooned his shot over the bar.
Freiburg hit the Schalke woodwork twice in the second half through substitutes Jerome Gondorf and Luca Waldschmidt.
Meanwhile, Claudio Pizarro, the Bundesliga's record foreign goal-scorer, claimed another milestone when he became the league's oldest scorer.
Aged 40 years and 136 days, the Peru striker claimed his 195th Bundesliga goal in dramatic fashion to equalise with the last kick of the game in Werder Bremen's 1-1 draw at Hertha Berlin.
Pizarro smashed a speculative free-kick under Hertha's wall and it took two deflections before hitting the net in the 96th minute.
Pizarro's late strike cost Hertha the chance to go sixth after the hosts had taken a deserved first-half lead through Davie Selke and twice hit the woodwork.
League leaders Borussia Dortmund are at bottom side Nuremberg on Monday.
They are two points ahead of Bayern Munich, who won 3-2 at Augsburg on Friday.
RB Leipzig took their chance to stay in the title race as a 3-1 win at Stuttgart left them fourth, just a point behind Borussia Moenchengladbach, who play Sunday at Eintracht Frankfurt.
Yussuf Poulsen netted two goals as Leipzig took the three points.
The Denmark striker opened the scoring after just six minutes when Leipzig's Germany striker Timo Werner fired in a cross, which clipped a defender's knee for Poulsen to tap home.
Steven Zuber equalised from the spot for Stuttgart ten minutes later when the video assistant referee spotted the ball had hit Willi Orban's arm after a Mario Gomez header.
However, Leipzig rallied as midfielder Marcel Sabitzer curled home a superb free-kick with 20 minutes left, then Poulsen claimed his second goal soon after, tapping home following an impressive run by US international Tyler Adams.
Wolfsburg climbed to fifth with a 3-0 win at Mainz with goals by midfielder Maximilian Arnold, striker Wout Weghorst and defender Robin Knoche.
Hoffenheim also moved up after Algeria forward Ishak Belfodil, Brazilian striker Joelinton and Germany midfielder Kerem Demirbay netted in their 3-0 win at second-from-bottom Hanover 96 to go seventh.