Haji Wright scored his first Bundesliga goal but the USA prospect’s strike could not prevent Schalke going down 2-1 at home to Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday.
Leverkusen had not travelled well prior to arriving in Gelsenkirchen, and the visitors looked queasy during the opening 20 minutes before sparking into life.
A Wendell shot well fielded by Ralf Fährmann was quickly followed by Dominik Kohr seizing onto a Benjamin Stambouli mistake only to fire narrowly wide.
Aleksandar Dragovic was much more accurate though when Leon Bailey’s shot ricocheted off a post and invitingly into his path to open the scoring.
Lucas Alario then deftly turned Matija Nastasic to fire home a second leave Schalkeon the ropes.
The Veltins-Arena faithful were given some pre-Christmas cheer in the dying embers of the first half when Wright instinctively stuck out a foot to divert USA international teammate Weston McKennie’s header past Lukas Hradecky.
Amine Harit might have levelled had the Leverkusen defence not scrambled a dangerous cross clear from under his feet, while a Nastasic header also might have done the job but for it to fly directly into Hradecky’s arms.
Substitutes Steven Skrzybski and Yevhen Konoplyanka both could have — the latter probably should have — equalised while Daniel Caligiuri flashed a vicious effort worryingly close for Hradecky, but a ninth loss of the season leaves the 2017/18 runners-up still in trouble.