A 30-meter rocket from Naldo fired Schalke 04 to a 2-0 victory over arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund on Sunday and strengthened their grip on second place in the Bundesliga.
Naldo’s superb strike sent the blue half of the Ruhr region into raptures as Schalke recorded their first win over Dortmund since September 2014.
The Brazilian, who scored a last-minute equaliser in Schalke’s dramatic 4-4 draw with Dortmund earlier in the season, was the hero again on Sunday, as he secured three points for his side late in the second half.
"To win the derby towards the end of the season is a real highlight," Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel told Sky. "It was a deserved victory."
Always a fiercely contested derby, there was even more at stake than usual in Sunday’s game, with just one point separating second-placed Schalke from third-placed Dortmund before kick-off.
Victory saw Schalke pull four points clear of third place, while Dortmund drop to fourth.
Schalke came close after just five minutes, Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki diving at full stretch to turn Alessandro Schoepf’s shot around the post.
At the other end, Marco Reus forced a flying save from Ralf Faehrmann as his long-range free-kick fizzed towards the top corner.
"We need to look at what went wrong in the first 45 to 60 minutes today," Reus told Sky. "We didn’t play well in that period."
The home side had the better of the first half, however, and could have taken the lead on the stroke of half-time when Yevhen Konoplyanka curled a low shot around the far post.
Konoplyanka had better luck five minutes after the break as he fired Schalke in front. Set free by Daniel Caligiuri on the counter-attack, the Ukrainian smashed a powerful shot past Burki to give his side a well-deserved lead.
Dortmund rallied in the last 20 minutes, with chances falling to Christian Pulisic and Reus.
Yet with eight minutes to play, Schalke were awarded a free-kick around 30 metres from goal. Caligiuri rolled the ball to Naldo, who blasted it into the bottom corner to secure victory.
Dortmund’s misery was compounded in stoppage time, when striker Michy Batshuayi was carried off on a stretcher after clashing with Benjamin Stambouli.
In Sunday's other game, Ademola Lookman's second-half equaliser rescued a point for RB Leipzig, as they drew 1-1 with Werder Bremen to keep their Champions League hopes alive.
"We tried everything in the second half and we deserved the point," Leipzig's Kevin Kampl told Sky. "Our aim is still to qualify for the Champions League, and we will fight to the end to achieve it."
Bremen looked the more dangerous side in the first half and they took the lead on 28 minutes. Max Kruse's curling shot struck the bar, and Niklas Moisander scuffed the ball in on the rebound.
The hosts could have doubled their lead 10 minutes later, as Milot Rashica and Zlatko Junuzovic forced two saves in quick succession from Leipzig goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi.
With Leipzig looking beaten at half-time, Ralph Hasenhuettl brought on Lookman, who promptly equalised. Winding his way through the Bremen back line, the young Englishman whipped a fierce shot past Jiri Pavlenka to level the scores.
The goal brought the game to life in the second half, and both Bremen’s Moisander and Leipzig’s Timo Werner missed golden opportunities to net a winner in the dying minutes.
The draw leaves Leipzig in fifth, four points adrift of the top four.
Updated Date: Apr 16, 2018 10:30:03 IST