Schalke boost Euro hopes
Last Updated: 11/04/14 9:54pm
Schalke 04 took another step to securing Champions League football next season with a 2-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt.Eighteen-year-old Maximilian Meyer pounced after 56 minutes before Jefferson Farfan's stoppage-time free-kick bagged the three points for the Royal Blues who extended their unbeaten run to seven games.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar also saw a second-half penalty saved by Eintracht keeper Kevin Trapp.
Schalke's qualification for next season's Champions League is close to a formality and so, the match had a feeling of training game, sorely lacking in quality for the first half an hour.
Frankfurt, perhaps, could feel quite unlucky not to sneak ahead on 20 minutes, though.
A long ball played towards Stefan Aigner, who managed to sneak behind the Schalke defence, opened up huge space for the midfielder, but his audacious 25-yard lob bounced over.
This was the only fleeting sign of Frankfurt in attack as the Royal Blues took control, albeit without moving out of first gear.
Kevin Prince-Boateng passed up a headed opportunity midway through the half, before, on 36 minutes, Huntelaar headed straight at Trapp who reacted sprightly to palm over the crossbar.
Schalke's marginal dominance carried into the second period with Draxler losing his footing on the surface in, arguably, the best shooting position of the match on 48 minutes.
Yet, it was another of Schalke's fantastically-talented young players who put the home side ahead eight minutes later.
Meyer slotted home at the third time of asking after Sead Kolasinac's long-range drive forced Trapp to parry only as far as Huntelaar whose rebounded shot was blocked by the Eintracht keeper.
Four minutes later, on the hour mark, Draxler thought he had doubled his side's lead, bundling home from close range, but on second consideration with his assistants, the referee ruled the goal out.
Schalke may have thought fortune was slowly beginning to move to the side of the Eagles.
Draxler was clearly pulled down by Carlos Zambrano on 65 minutes and from the resulting spot-kick, Trapp saved from Huntelaar who has missed four of his last six penalties.
Then, it was the crossbar that denied Schalke, ten minutes from the end. Draxler introduced Leon Goretzka, who was through with only Trapp to beat, and he rattled the crossbar in an attempt to find the top corner.
But Farfan came off the bench late on and curled home a pin-point free-kick from 25 yards with seconds left of added time.
Jens Keller's side have lost one match - to Bayern Munich - in their last 15 league games.