Schalke 04 scored four times in the second half to beat battling Hannover 96 5-4 for their first win since November and climbed to fifth in a dazzling restart to the Bundesliga season on Friday following a four-week winter break.
It was not until Lewis Holtby, who is due to join Tottenham Hotspur at the end of the season, restored a two-goal cushion two minutes from time that Schalke wrapped up the three points.
“It was a real spectacle for the fans, they had fun, but for me as a coach it was not that comfortable,” said Schalke coach Jens Keller, relieved to have made a winning Bundesliga debut after taking over from Huub Stevens last month.
“I thought we had wrapped it up after our 2-0 lead. This game was difficult on the nerves,” Keller told reporters.
The hosts started strongly with Marco Hoeger and Julian Draxler missing good chances in the opening minutes.
Schalke, without suspended Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Jermaine Jones, looked to be running out of ideas before Jefferson Farfan scored after a Christian Fuchs long throw was headed into the Peruvian striker’s path in the 44th minute.
Teenager Draxler drilled in a second goal for the hosts five minutes after the restart.
Hannover launched a comeback when Sergio Pinto’s 20m shot took a wicked deflection off Schalke’s Roman Neustaedter in the 55th and Hungarian Szabolcs Huszti silenced the home crowd with a low left-foot drive four minutes later.
The revival did not last long, however, with Hoeger firing Schalke back in front after 64 minutes and Ciprian Marica curling a shot past goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler in the 67th.
Hannover struck back instantly with Huszti volleying in his second goal before midfielder Holtby tapped home to settle Schalke’s nerves in the 88th.
Hannover striker Mame Diouf’s spectacular bicycle kick on the final whistle was the goal of the game, but came too late.
“We are gifting too many goals,” Hannover forward Jan Schlaudraff said.
German media say Holtby is close to leaving for Spurs over the next few days, rather than waiting for the end of the season, but he declined to confirm an early move in interviews after the match.
“I just want to enjoy this now,” he said.