Another touch of class from Leon Goretzka lit up an otherwise forgettable game. The Germany midfielder’s delightful dink made it four goals in nine league games for him and set Schalke on the way to a 2-0 win.
Schalke 2-0 Mainz
(Goretzka 13', Burgstaller 73')
When Guido Burgstaller received a bobbling ball inside the first quarter of an hour at the Veltins Arena, he didn’t seem to have much on. Suddenly, Goretzka burst past and Burgstaller found the 22-year-old with a cute reverse pass.
Rather than letting the moment get to him, Goretzka remained cool, delaying his shot for as long as possible to commit Rene Adler. The Mainz keeper blinked first and went to ground, allowing the 22-year-old midfielder to dink the ball over him and give the Royal Blues a lead.
It was to be one they never relinquished, Guido Burgstaller stabbed home a loose ball after Naldo’s header was saved to seal the points in the second half.
Read more : Goretzka backheel books Germany World Cup ticket
It was a solid and straightforward home win for Schalke, of the sort they’ve enjoyed all too rarely in recent years. Head coach Domenico Tedesco rightly takes some of the credit for a start that has seen the Royal Blues pick up 16 points from their first nine games but it will undoubtedly be Goretzka that hogs the limelight.
The Bochum-born midfielder has long been regarded as one of the brightest prospects at the club and has lived up to this billing of late, with three goals in his last three games. Goretzka's four Bundesliga goals can be added to the two in the Confederations Cup and two in Germany’s World Cup qualifiers.
On Friday night, he along with academy graduate Max Meyer, took hold of the game early, combining neatly in midfield and demonstrating the strength, maturity, vision and eye for goal that mark them out.
It’s the decisive moments Goretzka is providing from midfield that look certain to take him to the next level. With his contract set to expire at the end of the season and Bayern Munich reportedly keen, Schalke fans may be best advised to enjoy him while they can.
As it happened
FULL TIME: That's the last of it. Pretty straightforward for Schalke, which will delight Tedesco. The home side never really looked back after Goretzka's goal and move up in to fourth.
90+3 -- Fischer is in a decent position for Mainz but he's crowded out.
87' -- Mainz trying to get through still but Schalke defending deep in numbers. The men in red don't have the nous to break them down.
81' -- Oh dear that's a shocking miss. Kodro dives to head a left wing cross with Fährmann out the game but somehow heads wide under no pressure
77' -- Konoplyanka robs a defender of possession and is clean through. But he curls his effort wide.
73' -- Burgstaller bursts clear down the left and tries to cut it back, it hits the trailing leg of a Mainz defender and bobbles just wide. But the Austrian striker sweeps home a loose ball from the corner after Naldo's header was saved.
67' -- Burgstaller hits the post for Schalke. The Austrian striker got a feather touch on a ball from the left but it hit the upright. Konoplyanka is on for di Santo.
61' -- Di Santo really should break his Bundesliga drought. The Argentine forward is through, with the ball sitting up nicely but hits straight at Adler.
56' -- Di Santo breaks in to the box but stumbles over his own feet before Naldo heads over from the corner.
52' -- Oczipka is fouled 12 yards outside the box. It's a long way out but Naldo fancies it. Rather predictably, it goes about 12 yards over.
47' -- Muto finishes a nice, jinking run with a low shot that Fährmann does well to stop with his legs.
46' -- The players are back out and the second half is underway.
HALF TIME: Steinhaus must be as unenthused by the fare on show here as the rest of us, as she blows for the break with barely a second of injury time. Leon Goretzka's lovely dinked finish lit up a first half that was otherwise forgettable. Here's one he made earlier...
43' -- Mainz come forward again but get stuck again. After a decent first 15, this one hasn't been up to much.
38' -- A Schalke corner drops to Harit who leathers it. He gets a decent connection but it goes wide.
36' -- Mainz are pressing Schalke much more effectively than in the early stages but are still yet to create much.
30' -- Close for Mainz. It wasn't deliberate but Öztunali's corner almost curls straight over the head of Fährmann and in.
26' -- Öztunali is crowded out and hits the deck theatrically. Nothing doing but Mainz are starting to at least compete.
22' -- Naldo stops a promising Mainz counter with a beefy challenge that referee Bibiana Steinhaus decides is a foul. The Brazilian goes in the book. He did get the ball but it was a bit of a lunge. The free kick is wasted.
20' -- Schalke really dominating here. Mainz struggling to get out of their own half. 77% possession for the hosts.
13' -- Goretzka scores! The midfielder's briliant season continues. He picked up a smart through ball on the half-turn from Burgstaller and waited for Adler to commit himself before dinking it over the keeper.
12' -- A spot of pinball in the Mainz box started by Goretzka ends when Adler picks it up on the slide and just about manages to stay in his area.
9' -- Schalke have the game's first corner but Mainz defend well. Eventually the ball drops to Harit who balloons it over the bar.
8' -- Öztunali begins to skip down the line but is stopped by Meyer. Mainz enjoying their first real spell of possession.
4' -- Schalke stroking the ball about nicely early on, with Max Meyer looking busy. But it's all in midfield at the minute.
1' -- And we're off! Schalke get the ball rolling.
20:20 -- Kick off is just round the corner, so what better than some stats to get us in the mood...
20:00 -- These two sides both come in to this match on the back of wins last time out and broadly encouraging starts under new coaches. But with the table still taking shape,things could look very different by Sunday night. The teams are in, and Fraco di Santo gets his second consecutive start up top for Schalke and is still looking for a first Bundesliga goal since March 2016. Kick off is at 20:30.