The only Bundesliga side in action on Friday night, Domenico Tedesco’s side led through Nabil Bentaleb’s first-half penalty against their limited but stubborn hosts.
They made sure of the victory late on thanks to an Adam Jabiri own goal, with few scares over the course of the 90 minutes.
Bentaleb penalty breaks Schweinfurt resistance
Schalke, five-time Pokal winners and semi-finalists last season, were coming up against a strong fourth-tier side in Schweinfurt. The Franconians retained the Bayerischer Toto-Pokal (Bavarian Cup) last year to qualify for the DFB-Pokal, and are third in the Regionalliga Bayern, unbeaten since early April. Schalke showed them full respect with a strong starting line-up, which included new signings Salif Sané and Mark Uth.
It was a slow start to the game, with the hosts denying the Bundesliga side any space on the ball. They couldn’t create much in open play as a result, but Guido Burgstaller headed over, without any direction or control, after Sané had headed on a corner. Philip Messingschlager was involved at both end of the pitch for Schweinfurt, having a half-chance at one end and getting a vital touch to prevent Abdul Rahman Baba from taking a shot at the other.
Unfortunately for the hosts, he would also concede the penalty midway through the half that saw them fall behind. He appeared to bring down Amine Harit in the box, although it didn’t appear a clear cut decision. Arne Aarnink was convinced though, and Bentaleb converted from the spot, placing the ball over Alexander Eiban despite the goalkeeper guessing correctly.
The game began to open for the Royal Blues after that. Sané headed over the bar after Eiban had punched clear a Daniel Caligiuri free-kick, whilst a good move involved Baba and Uth eventually saw a Burgstaller deflect out of play. Matthias Strohmaier would also block a Weston McKennie effort with his groin, needing a few moments to compose himself after. He’d help to keep the score at one going into the break though.
Jabiri unfortunate as Schalke seal their passage
Schalke kept plugging away in the second half, but the hosts kept themselves in the game. It could have been two moments after the restart though, with McKennie finding Harit but he couldn’t quite get the ball over the line, with the hosts winning a free-kick before someone else could. Naldo also headed over from a corner.
Chances had been non-existent for Schweinfurt until, on the counter, Stefan Maderer, formerly of SpVgg Greuther Fürth, struck wide of Ralf Fährmann’s goal. The Schalke goalkeeper would have been less concerned about Adam Jabiri’s shot just over, which went well over the bar.
They were finding it harder to repel Schalke from set pieces though. Breel Embolo, on for Burgstaller, saw an overhead kick from a corner go wide, but later on a cross into the box was messily gotten away. From Caligiuri’s resulting corner though, Matija Nastasić met it, the ball going in off the head of Jabiri. The Schweinfurt striker would be credited with the own goal, and Schalke’s passage to next round looked certain.
The remaining minutes were played in the midst of an incoming storm, with Schalke exerting no more energy than was necessarily in the rain with their opponents seemingly tamed, bar a late chance for Embolo. There was still time for Strohmaier to connect with a Florain Trinks free-kick, with Fährmann saving, but he had been clearly offside. Schalke were safely through.