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Schalke beats Freiburg to ease pressure on Keller

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The Canadian Press
12/15/2013 12:02:04 PM
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BERLIN -- Schalke eked out a 2-0 win over relegation-threatened Freiburg to ease the pressure on coach Jens Keller on Sunday, while Bayer Leverkusen lost 1-0 at home to Eintracht Frankfurt.

Despite dominating possession, Schalke needed an own goal from Nicolas Hoefler for the breakthrough a minute before the interval. The Freiburg midfielder misjudged Jefferson Farfan's corner and bundled the ball into his own net.

Farfan settled the result in the 67th with a penalty after Freiburg substitute Tim Albutat brought down Max Meyer on the edge of the penalty area. TV replays were inconclusive as to whether the foul occurred inside or outside the area.

"We're talking about 20 centimetres. It's hard for a referee. Of course we're happy that he awarded it," said Keller, who had been under increasing pressure since Schalke was knocked out of the German Cup.

Oliver Baumann produced a fingertip save to deny Meyer from scoring with an overhead kick two minutes later, in what was the highlight of a scrappy game.

"The win will do the whole club, the whole team good, even if we didn't deliver our best performance. We're simply happy to have won," said Keller, who took over from the dismissed Huub Stevens a year ago.

"I have the feeling I'm still under pressure," Keller said. "But it's not about me. We'll have to see what decision is taken. I'm happy with every day that I'm here. Nobody thought I'd last so long."

The loudest cheers came with two minutes remaining when Schalke fan favourite Kyriakos Papadopoulos came on after more than a year out due to knee problems.

"That was pure goose bumps," the 21-year-old Greek defender said. "I'm very, very happy. I never gave up and worked hard every day for my comeback."

Schalke remains sixth after 16 games played while Freiburg still occupies the relegation play-off place after its fifth successive loss across all competitions.

"It's not inexplicable," said Freiburg coach Christian Streich, who highlighted his side's modest resources. "The lads played their 25th game today. We're bringing amateur players in that you have to build up slowly, because they'll all at the edge. We played at the absolute limit. We no longer have the strength to maintain it. We'll go into the second half of the season and try to make the impossible possible."

Marco Russ's second-half header was enough for Frankfurt to end a run of 10 games without a win in Sunday's late game at second-place Leverkusen.

Russ, a defender, rose above Leverkusen's Philipp Wollscheid to power Sebastian Jung's cross past Bernd Leno with a header in the 61st.

Joselu missed a penalty for the visitors with the last kick of the game, and Jan Rosenthal hit the post in the 12th minute, but it didn't matter as Frankfurt climbed three points above Freiburg.

Leverkusen remains seven points behind leader Bayern Munich after its third defeat of the season.

Jefferson Farfan (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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