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He scored a brace but didn’t win the match alone


It was a successful start to the 2017/18 season for Schalke, even though it was heavy going. In the end, what matters is that team are through to the second round of the DFB-Pokal after Tedesco’s boys saw off BFC Dynamo with a 2-0 victory. “Sure, not everything is perfect at the moment,” says Leon Goretzka. “But it’s evident that we still need some time to make the coach’s ideas second nature for us.”

It was easy to see what style of play Domenico Tedesco wanted to see from his team in Berlin as Schalke pressed early and put the opponents under pressure time and time again. “We had two very good chances in the first 15 minutes and we should have taken the lead then,” says the 31 year old, who was directing his first competitive match for Schalke 04 from the sidelines. “But unfortunately we missed out on converting those chances so it felt really close,” according to Ralf Fährmann, whose opposite number Bernhard Hendl was playing superbly, saving many shots solidly.

Kono scores in third successive Pokal match

The Knappen had to wait until the closing stages to score in the Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark after letting several chances slip. “The longer it stayed 0-0 the more difficult it became for us,” says Tedesco. Christian Heidel added: “When you score once or even twice in the first 15 minutes, you’re in for a relaxing evening. If you don’t take advantage of those early chances, then the game goes on and on until you’re very relieved to get through at the last minute.” The sporting director focused on a different point: “We earned our victory and were the better team, especially in the second half.”

Yevhen Konoplyankascored both goals in front of 14,117 spectators in the capital, 4,300 of whom were Schalke fans. The first goal showed why the DFB-Pokal suits him. After his brace in Nuremberg and another goal in Sandhausen last season, the Ukrainian scored his fourth and fifth goals of the competition. “It was a perfect start for us as a team,” the brace-scorer beamed, “and for Kono it was comforting after the difficult season. He was understandably in very high spirits after the final whistle,” explains Goretzka.

Tedesco: It was a great team effort

Tedesco said Konoplyanka didn’t win the match by himself, despite his two goals because “it was a team performance. The result was made by more than the two goals. We were also tidy in defence and stopped a lot of long balls effectively.” The substitutions were also used effectively.Leon GoretzkaandMax Meyerwere always preparing for a shot andFranco Di Santo’s attacking play also created danger. “As I always say, I’m delighted that the whole squad play an important role. We have lots of quality and a healthy competition in the team,” said Tedesco.

The Knappen will now work hard up until the start of the Bundesliga season, which kicks off against RB Leipzig on Saturday (20thAugust), to make sure they are celebrating a victory. “Of course, we’re hoping for a full stadium,” says Fährmann, whileBastian Oczipkaadds “With a win in the first game of the season, we can build momentum going into the next fixtures.” The new signing from Frankfurt is eager for his debut in the stadium as a Royal Blue. “I’ve already played here a few times with my previous teams in away fixtures – they were never easy games! I’m happy that the fans in theVELTINS-Arenaare now supporting me,” the left footer grins.