Schalke earn point at Hertha in bruising Berlin encounter

Berlin (AFP) –


Schalke are unbeaten in their last three Bundesliga matches after Friday's 2-2 draw at Hertha Berlin further boosted moral with the visit of Manchester City approaching.

Schalke twice took the lead at Berlin's Olympic Stadium, through Yevhen Konoplyanka and Mark Uth, only for Marko Grujic and captain Vedad Ibisevic to equalise for Hertha in a rollercoaster first-half.

With three weeks to go until Schalke face Pep Guardiola's Manchester City in Gelsenkirchen in the last 16 of the Champions League, the Royal Blues are now up to 12th in Germany's top flight after a disastrous first half of the season.

More importantly for head coach Domenico Tedesco, they are eight points clear of the relegation places.

This was a bruising clash as all three Schalke substitutions - for midfielders Benjamin Stambouli, Alessandro Schoepf and Steven Skrzybski - due to injury.

Tedesco again gambled by leaving club captain Ralf Faehrmann on the bench, playing Germany Under-21 goalkeeper Alexander Nuebel, who was once more outstanding, having also shone in Sunday's 2-1 win over Wolfsburg.

Schalke took the lead in superb style after just 17 minutes when Ukraine international Konoplyanka cut in from the left wing and curled his shot inside the post.

Hertha responded in kind when playmaker Ondrej Duda played an audacious backheel into the path of Grujic, on loan from Liverpool, who fired home on 39 minutes.

There were still two goals left in the half.

Uth fired home to restore Schalke's lead.

However Hertha captain Vedad Ibisevic still had time to grab an equalise, after a looping cross from his forward partner Davie Selke, in the fourth minute of added time.

Schalke had the best chances after the break and Nuebel was solid between the posts as Hertha, who are seventh, held on for a draw.