Sluggish Schalke held by Hamburg


Schalke went two consecutive home games without a win to end 2014 on a sorry note with a goalless draw at home to Hamburg. On the day the Gelsenkirchen club announced the contract extension of striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Roberto Di Matteo's men lacked inspiration up front and had to defend stoutly to hold on to a point against the strugglers. Hamburg had the better chances to win it in the second half, but will nevertheless be pleased with the point which keeps them above the bottom three going into the winter break. Immediately prior to kick-off, Schalke announced that Huntelaar had extended his contract by two years to 2017. The 31-year-old, who joined the Royal Blues in 2010, has committed himself to the Gelsenkirchen club for whom he had scored 114 goals up to Saturday. He nearly made that 115 after just a minute at the Veltins-Arena, but his close-range header came back off the crossbar. Hamburg were coping with the pressure and creating chances on the break, but Petr Jiracek failed to take their best one when he met Artjoms Rudnevs' cross at full stretch beyond the far post. All he had to do was guide the ball on target with Ralf Fahrmann out of his goal, but he could not wrap his foot around the ball from a tight angle. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting had his first shot of the game just two minutes into the second half, but Jaroslav Drobny denied him and held on to the ball at his near post. Fahrmann made an even more impressive stop from Lewis Holtby as Hamburg finally showed a sign of life going forwards. It sparked the northern Germany side into action and they started to lay siege to a tired-looking Schalke's goal. A mistake by Cleber gave Schalke the chance to relieve some of the pressure with just under 10 minutes remaining when he gave away a free-kick which was taken by Huntelaar, but was diffused by the wall. Roman Neustadter, Schalke's match-winner in midweek, struck the outside of the post with a rare chance late on, but a goal would have been cruel on Hamburg, who were worthy of their point.