Saint-Maximin's beauty not enough as Schalke win 3-1
Hannover 96 were beaten 3-1 by FC Schalke 04 on matchday 15 in the Bundesliga. A penalty from Geis and Huntelaar’s strike saw the Royal Blues take a 2-0 lead before Saint-Maximin scored a stunner to bring Hannover back into the match. However, the hosts responded immediately and restored their two-goal advantage through di Santo.
Bech ruled out, Geis returns
Ron-Robert Zieler was struggling with illness during the week but still made the starting XI, which did not apply to Uffe Bech unfortunately as he was sidelined with a rib injury and replaced by Ceyhun Gülselam. Schalke manager Andre Breitenreiter was able to call upon Johannes Geis again, with the midfielder having served his five-game suspension, a spell during which Schalke had failed to record a win.
Leroy Sané causes problems for 96
The game started with a shock, as Artur Sobiech suffered an ankle injury just a minute into the game following a challenge with Sascha Riether. The striker was initially able to continue but was forced off 15 minutes later, which increases Hannover's injury worries. Charlison Benschop came on for the Pole. The Reds still made a decent start to the match but failed to produce any clear opportunities. Midway through the first half, Schalke began to increase the pressure and recorded chances through Leroy Sané, Max Meyer and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. Sané in particular was difficult to contain, as the youngster caused plenty of problems for Frontzeck's defence. Zieler made a crucial save against the recently capped Germany international just before the break to keep the scores level going into half-time.
Schalke take the lead
The second half began as the first had ended, with the hosts pushing for the opener. Five minutes after the break Marcelo brought down Huntelaar in the area and referee Wolfgang Stark awarded Schalke a penalty, which Geis converted to break the deadlock. Hannover were not fazed though and instead looked for the equaliser as Karaman recorded the first real opportunity for the Reds after 54 minutes. Schalke continued to control the possession and eventually doubled their advantage when Huntelaar left Zieler without a chance from roughly ten yards in the 72nd minute. But instead of accepting defeat, Hannover battled back and Karaman struck the woodwork in the 80th minute just before Saint-Maximin crowned his strong performance since being brought on for Manuel Schmiedebach on the hour mark. The 18-year-old Frenchman finished off a fine solo run with a thunderous strike into the top corner. But the hosts responded promptly and Franco di Santo scored just one minute later to restore the two-goal advantage for S04.
Under pressure now in Hoffenheim
In the end, Hannover deserved to lose the game, as Schalke created too much pressure for the Reds to handle. There is a little consolation for Saint-Maximin after he scored his first Bundesliga goal. Hannover now face a crucial encounter at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim next weekend, when they will look to improve their points tally as the winter break edges closer.
FC Schalke 04: Fährmann - Riether, Höwedes, Matip, Aogo - Geis (88’ Kolasinac), Goretzka - Sané, Meyer (78’ Højbjerg), Choupo-Moting - Huntelaar (77’ di Santo)
Hannover 96: Zieler - Sorg, Marcelo, Schulz, Albornoz - Schmiedebach (62’ Saint-Maximin), Sané - Andreasen (77’ Prib), Gülselam, Karaman - Sobiech (17’ Benschop)
Goals: 1-0 Geis (51’ pen), 2-0 Huntelaar (73’), 2-1 Saint-Maximin (81’), 3-1 di Santo (82’)
Yellow cards: Riether / Marcelo
Referee: Wolfgang Stark (Ergolding)