GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany — Bayer Leverkusen rose to second in the Bundesliga after a 3-0 victory over Schalke, which extended its run to 26 league games without a win.
Basic errors by Schalke at set pieces on Sunday put Leverkusen firmly on track for a comfortable win. Leverkusen climbed above Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund to second, one point behind Bayern Munich.
Schalke’s Malick Thiaw put Leverkusen ahead in the 10th minute when he knocked the ball into his own net with his shoulder while defending a corner. Julian Baumgartlinger made it 2-0 in the 67th with a simple looping header at the near post after another corner.
Schalke had a path to a comeback when Leverkusen’s Daley Sinkgraven gave away a penalty, but goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky reacted well to save Steven Skrzybski’s attempt. Leverkusen’s third goal followed soon after when Patrik Schick scored off a pass from Nadiem Amiri.
Schalke’s last win in the Bundesliga was in the previous season on Jan. 17. Its 26-game winless run is five short of the record set by Tasmania Berlin in the 1965-66 season.
German fans aren’t allowed inside stadiums amid the coronavirus pandemic, but Schalke’s supporters made their feelings known. Ahead of the game, large banners in the club’s blue and white colours were hung on buildings near the stadium lambasting club officials for “years of mismanagement.”
Financial problems are biting, there have been injuries to key players and dissent in the squad which led the club to suspend three players last month. Coach David Wagner was fired in September but his successor Manuel Baum has made little headway in his attempt to turn around what was a Champions League last-16 club as recently as the 2018-19 season.
WALKING THE BALL IN
Silas Wamangituka scored twice — and literally walked the ball into the goal —- as promoted Stuttgart continued its impressive return to the Bundesliga with a 2-1 win over Werder Bremen.
Stuttgart moved to eighth place with the win, bouncing back from a 3-1 loss to Bayern Munich last week, and kept up its record of scoring in every league game since its return to the German top flight. Bremen dropped to 12th.
Bremen gave winger Tahith Chong, on loan from Manchester United, his first league start since Oct. 31, but his main contribution was to give away the penalty that helped to decide the game.
Chong tripped Stuttgart’s Japanese midfielder Wataru Endo in the penalty area and the referee needed little time in awarding the spot-kick. Wamangituka sent goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka the wrong way and hit the ball into the top-left of the net.
Wamangituka made it 2-0 in added time when he intercepted a back pass from Ömer Toprak, rounded the goalkeeper and walked the ball into the empty net at a deliberately slow pace. That earned Wamangituka a yellow card for apparent unsporting behaviour and angered Bremen forward Davie Selke, who interrupted Wamangituka’s celebrations and later branded the forward’s behaviour “lacking respect” in comments to broadcaster Sky.
Selke headed in a goal for Bremen soon after the game restarted, but there was no time to chase an equalizer.
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