Schalke was finally relegated from the Bundesliga after a dismal season with a 1-0 loss at Arminia Bielefeld on Tuesday, when Bayern Munich closed in on another title.
Bayern is just one win away from a record-extending ninth consecutive championship after it capitalized on second-place Leipzig’s shock 2-1 loss at Cologne and moved 10 points clear at the top with a 2-0 win at home over Bayer Leverkusen.
The Bavarian powerhouse can seal the title with a win at Mainz on Saturday.
“Now we’re very close. Even if the season didn’t go quite to plan, we can grab the championship. That’s the main target,” Joshua Kimmich said.
Fabian Klos’ 50th-minute goal was enough for Bielefeld to deal Schalke its 21st defeat in 30 games.
Schalke had been playing in the Bundesliga continuously since earning promotion in 1991. It’s the quickest of the Gelsenkirchen-based club’s four demotions with four games still to play.
“We knew it was coming, but when you realize it’s over — it’s really brutal,” said former Schalke great Gerald Asamoah, who acts as a link between the club and the players. “I’m bound to the club, it’s been 20 years and I never dreamed it could be so long. I’ve no words.”
Bielefeld, which was promoted last season, moved four points above Hertha Berlin in the relegation zone, though Hertha has two games in hand. The Hertha squad is on quarantine for two weeks following a COVID-19 outbreak at the club.
Goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann saved a penalty from Klos, who was offside when he swept in the rebound. Schalke also finished with 10 men after Malick Thiaw was sent off with his second yellow card in the 71st.
But Schalke is last with 13 points from 30 games and cannot gain enough points to survive even if it were to somehow win its last four games. Schalke has just two wins all season.
“It’s a very bitter hour for all Schalke people,” said Dimitrios Grammozis, the team’s fifth coach of the season. “We’re brutally disappointed.”
BAYERN ON BRINK
Bayern wasted no time against Leverkusen. Alphonso Davies was involved before David Alaba crossed for Thomas Müller to draw a good save from Lukas Hradecky. But the rebound fell to Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, who hammered home a volley in the eighth minute.
Leverkusen defender Daley Sinkgraven then laid the ball off for Joshua Kimmich to fire inside the left post five minutes later.
It another boost for the club, Leon Goretzka returned from injury when he came on for Müller in the 63rd.
Cologne captain Jonas Hector scored twice for Cologne to upset Leipzig 2-1 and boost its chances of survival.
Leipzig dominated the first half in terms of chances and possession but was caught out after the break when Hector – a defender – headed in the opener after Dayot Upamecano left him in too much space at the far post for Jannes Horn’s cross.
Amadou Haidara equalized in the 59th, but Hector scored again a minute later, firing inside the right post after playing a one-two with Ondrej Duda, who set him up with his heel. It was the first time the Germany defender scored twice in a Bundesliga game.
Cologne remained second from bottom in an automatic relegation place, behind Hertha on goal difference.
Also, Eintracht Frankfurt consolidated fourth place and the last spot for Champions League qualification with a 2-0 win over Augsburg.