FC Schalke wins, widens leads atop Bundesliga
November 24, 2006 7:36pm CST
Schalke moved five points clear at the top of the German Bundesliga with a 2-1 victory over Bochum on Friday. The home side was made to work for the points despite going two goals ahead inside the first half-hour following efforts from Rafinha and Peter Lovenkrands. Bochum hit back after the interval through Theofanis Gekas but went down to 10 men after Heiko Butscher's red card for a foul on Lovenkrands in the 66th minute. Levan Kobiashvili missed the resulting penalty, but Schalke held on for all three points. In a bright start for the visitors, Gekas missed a 1-on-1 with Manuel Neuer and Filip Trojan also fired wide with a distance shot. Schalke took these warnings seriously and was soon in control, the only difference being they made the most of their opportunities. A move involving the Altintop twins, first Hamit and then Halil with a backheel, found Rafinha, who beat Peter Skov-Jensen from inside the penalty area after 19 minutes. The Royal Blues doubled their lead eight minutes later through Lovenkrands, who was awarded a goal out of nothing. Schalke goal keeper Neuer pumped the ball into the path of the Dane, who needed just one touch to fire left-footed through the legs of Skov-Jensen. Bochum had recovered from two-goal deficits in each of their last two games, and another remarkable comeback looked on the cards when Gekas nodded in Misimovic's cross less than five minutes into the second half. It was a textbook header from the in-form Greek striker, who got just enough of a deflection on the ball to send it nestling in the far corner of Neuer's goal from his teammate's left wing cross. Their hopes of drawing level were dashed when Butscher was shown a red card for a foul on Lovenkrands inside the area. Kobiashvili saw his spot kick saved by Skov-Jensen. A goal would have seen Schalke comfortably through to the end, but instead they still had to fight for three points. Despite having the better chances to grab a third, Bochum - most notably through Gekas and Misimovic - were always a threat going forward. As the game entered stoppage time, both players had chances to equalize while Tommy Beckmann had a possible penalty-claim turned down for the visitors.