Schalke ends 9-month winless run with German Cup victory

GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) — Schalke ended its nine-month winless streak in all competitions by beating fourth-tier club Schweinfurt 4-1 in the first round of the German Cup on Tuesday.

The game was closer than the scoreline would suggest. Schweinfurt briefly led on a goal from Martin Thomann before Vedad Ibisevic and Alessandro Schöpf responded to give Schalke a 2-1 lead at the break. Schweinfurt won a penalty saved by Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann before Schöpf and Benito Raman extended Schalke’s lead.

Before Tuesday, Schalke had last won a competitive game on Feb. 4 against Hertha Berlin in extra time in the cup.

The financially troubled club is still on a 22-game winless streak in the Bundesliga going back to January. That is the second-worst run for any team in league history.

Schweinfurt was competing in two different seasons at once. While it had a place in the 2020-21 German Cup, it’s still contesting the 2019-20 campaign in the the Bavarian regional league. Officials there opted to carry on with that campaign after a suspension for the coronavirus pandemic rather than start a new season.

The Bavarian league was suspended again Monday after officials declared an early winter break because of German measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which is surging again in Europe.

The Schweinfurt-Schalke game was originally scheduled for September but delayed because of a legal challenge by another team from Bavaria, Türkgücü, which disputed how the German Cup spot was allocated when the 2019-20 season was disrupted by the pandemic.

Schweinfurt was nominally the home team, but the game was played at Schalke’s stadium with no spectators allowed. Numerous lower-league clubs gave away hosting rights for the German Cup because of the financial burden of adapting stadiums for TV broadcasts without any ticket revenue.

Schalke was without one unnamed player who the club said Monday had tested positive for the coronavirus. Local health officials allowed the game to go ahead despite that case.

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