Huntelaar fires Schalke past Bayer
Two goals from Klaas Jan Huntelaar condemned Bayer Leverkusen to their fourth straight defeat and took Schalke up to third in the Bundesliga tonight.
The Dutchman kept up the pressure on Bayern Munich's Mario Gomez at the top of the Bundesliga goalscoring charts with his 21st and 22nd goals of the season, one in each half at the Arena AufSchalke.
Huntelaar, who was labelled the "best striker in the world inside the penalty area" by his coach Huub Stevens, has now scored 40 goals in all competitions this season to help Schalke on their way towards a place in the UEFA Champions League next season.
The win took Schalke above Borussia Monchengladbach into third and moved them 13 points clear of fifth place, all but assuring them a place in Europe's premier club competition next season.
Their motivation was clear from the outset. The only shots in the first 15 minutes were from Schalke, who deservedly took the lead in the 18th minute. Christian Fuchs sent in a cross from the left, which Huntelaar headed home.
Lewis Holtby missed the chance to make it two just minutes later when he pounced on a loose ball, but sent his shot over the crossbar from outside the penalty area. It was all Schalke as Leverkusen struggled to get a grip on the game, threatening only once when Stefan Kiessling's shot was blocked.
The home side had several chances to double their lead before the break, but when they did have the ball in the net again, Huntelaar's effort was ruled out for offside.
Eren Derdiyok and Simon Rolfes had long-range efforts early in the second half as Leverkusen looked for a response, but Schalke continued to look dangerous. Huntelaar was denied by goalkeeper Bernd Leno, who made another good save to deny Raul as the home side looked to put the game beyond their visitors.
They were only able to breathe more easily in the 86th minute, though, when Huntelaar sealed the win with his second goal. Jefferson Farfan was the provider this time, crossing for the Dutch striker to head home.