Schalke 04 1-1 VfB Stuttgart: The Swabians strike back to earn a deserved draw

Stuttgart extend their unbeaten run to eight games as Harnik comes off the bench to equalise and deny Schalke.

Schalke 04 1-1 VfB Stuttgart: The Swabians strike back to earn a deserved draw
Martin Harnik came to the rescue for Stuttgart. Image via
Schalke 04
1 1
VfB Stuttgart
Schalke 04: Fährmann, Júnior Caiçara, Matip, Kolašinac, Neustädter, Belhanda (Aogo 85'), Geis, Goretzka, Schöpf, Huntelaar (Di Santo 71'), Choupo-Moting (Sané 22').
VfB Stuttgart: Tytoń, Insúa, Schwaab, Niedermeier, Gentner, Dié (Harnik 71'), Großkreutz, Didavi (Maxim 62'), Rupp, Kostić, Werner (Kravets 67').
SCORE: 1-0, min. 14, Belhanda. 1-1, min. 74, Harnik.
REFEREE: Bastian Dankert. Booked: Didavi 28', Belhanda 69', Schöpf 75', Sané 81'.

One of the two late kick-offs this Sunday saw Schalke host the in-form Stuttgart as they looked to leap into the Champions League places.

The Royal Blues opened the scoring when Younes Belhanda tapped home after he was heavily involved in a move early on.

It looked like they would grab all three points until Martin Harnik earned a share of the spoils for the visitors.

Both sides came into the game in contrasting form, with Stuttgart's remarkable rise taking them to within a few points of Schalke.

A home lead against the run of play

Stuttgart started the game very well and they carved out the first chance after six minutes. Timo Werner broke into the area and he managed to pick out Christian Gentner, however his effort was excellently turned around the post by Ralf Fährmann.

Despite Stuttgart dominating the opening stages it was Schalke who managed to take the lead.

After 14 minutes Younès Belhanda unselfishly played the ball to Alessandro Schöpf, who was denied by Przemysław Tytoń. Disappointingly for Stuttgart, the rebound looped up perfectly for Belhanda to end up in the empty net for his second of the season.

Stuttgart caused problems once more when Werner burst forward and this time he went for goal himself on the edge of the area, but Fährmann made the save. Just before the break Schalke had to hold their breath and hope the best as Werner's cross deflected off Sead Kolašinac, but it looped just over the bar onto the roof of the net.

Schalke couldn't keep hold of Belhanda's first half goal. Image via
Schalke couldn't keep hold of Belhanda's first half goal. Image via

Topsy-turvy start to the second half

Schalke came close to scoring straight away in the second half, Johannes Geis whipped in a tremendous freekick but Joël Matip couldn't direct his diving header on target.

It was the home side that threatened once more as they pushed for some more breathing space. Kolašinac fired in a quality cross and Klass-Jan Huntelaar wonderfully controlled the ball, while also turning and holding off Georg Niedermeier, despite the brilliance his shot was straight at Tytoń who saved.

Stuttgart then almost equalised in bizarre fashion, a lovely flowing move saw Gentner play the ball into Werner, who found Daniel Didavi. Sadly for them Fährmann was alert and tackled Didavi. Roman Neustädter struck his clearance against his own' keeper and fortunately for Schalke Júnior Caiçara was on the line to clear the danger.

The away side started to threaten more and more as the game went on and they should have scored when Gentner pulled the ball back to Werner; from a few yards out the youngster fired over.

Both sides were doing very well at creating chances, however they struggled with their execution. Schalke reacted to Werner's chance and in similar fashion as Schöpf cut the ball back to Leon Goretzka, who couldn't apply the finish.

Stuttgart get the goal they deserve

Stuttgart came very close to drawing level once more when Lukas Rupp clipped the ball to Alexandru Maxim. The Romanian showed great technique to volley towards goal, and much to Schalke's relieve the effort bounced agonisingly wide.

The away side were left wondering what more they could do but their frustrations were soon gone as they equalised with 15 minutes left to go. Maxim delivered the corner, Gentner's header at the near post saw Fährmann produce a great save and his team substitute Martin Harnik was there for the rebound to tap in.

Maxim was pulling all the strings after coming onto the pitch and he almost caught out Fährmann with his long range freekick. The Romanian over-hit his freekick and the Schalke 'keeper had to scramble back and was just able to flick the ball over.

Schalke went agonisingly close to grabbing a late winner, a corner to the near post saw Matip win the header and it flew across goal and just wide. 

That proved to be the last of the action and it was a well earned point for both sides. Schalke will be disappointed they couldn't see out the win, however it would've been harsh had Stuttgart lost. The Swabians are now eight games unbeaten and move up a place to eleventh.