Gross ends Schalke's 30-game winless run

AFP , Saturday 9 Jan 2021

Matthew Hoppe scored a hat-trick for Schalke against Hoffenheim (Photo: Schalke twitter account)

Schalke avoided a record-equalling 31st consecutive Bundesliga game without a victory on Saturday as American teenager Matthew Hoppe netted a hat-trick in a 4-0 thrashing of Hoffenheim to lift his side off the bottom of the table.

After the 30-match run in the league, the Royal Blues enjoyed their first Bundesliga win in just under a year as 19-year-old Hoppe converted three chances created by Morocco's Amine Harit, who scored the fourth goal.

"The relief is big, huge even. But that was only one step. Now we have to move on," said sports director Jochen Schneider with his side still four points from guaranteed safety in the table.

After his impressive display, Hoppe shyly claimed he had "no words" to describe the euphoria. "I hope we keep fighting," he added.

Mainz replace Schalke at the bottom of the table after a 2-0 home defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt, while Tasmania Berlin, who went 31 games without a win in the 1965/66 season, keep the Bundesliga record for the longest winless run.

After league leaders Bayern Munich crashed to a 3-2 defeat at Borussia Moenchengladbach on Friday, second-placed RB Leipzig can go top with a home win against Borussia Dortmund later on Saturday.

In Gelsenkirchen, Hoffenheim were missing 11 players either injured or suspended, while the hosts were captained by Sead Kolasinac, 27, who was making his first Schalke appearance back on loan from Arsenal.

Both teams had early chances, but Hoppe got the breakthrough with a deft chip to put Schalke ahead just before the break.

The teenager doubled the hosts' lead on 57 minutes when Harit's pass again put him in behind the defence to calmly round Hoffenheim's goalkeeper and fire into an empty net.

Hoppe claimed his hat-trick just after the hour mark when put into space by another sublime Harit pass to fire home with another deft chip.

Harit then completed the rout by hitting the bottom left-hand corner ten minutes from time.

After defeats to Bayern and Eintracht Frankfurt, third-placed Bayer Leverkusen drew 1-1 at home to Werder Bremen as Patrik Schick equalised after Omer Toprak put Bremen ahead from a free-kick with only their second chance of the game.

Union Berlin climbed to fourth after a controversial 2-2 draw at home to Wolfsburg, who came from behind after Maximilian Arnold was sent off just after the break.

Renato Steffen gave Wolfsburg an early lead with a header, but Union striker Sheraldo Becker equalised with a crisp shot after squandering a clear chance.

It was 1-1 at the break, but Arnold was shown a straight red for a nudge on Liverpool loanee Taiwo Awoniyi just outside the area and Union midfielder Robert Andrich fired in the resulting free-kick on 52 minutes.

Union had the ball in the net again with an hour played, but the goal was disallowed as the referee judged Awoniyi had fouled Wolfsburg goalkeeper Koen Casteels.

Wolfsburg striker Wout Weghorst equalised on 67 minutes by converting a penalty after a handball by Union defender Marcus Ingvartsen.

Freiburg set a new club record of five straight league wins, which has seen them climb from 14th to eighth in the table, with a 5-0 romp at home to Cologne.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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