BERLIN, Germany, May 7 – Uruguay striker Rodrigo Zalazar smashed a late winner over the bar as Schalke came from two goals down to beat St. Pauli 3-2 and earn promotion to the Bundesliga on Saturday.
Zalazar turned Gelsenkirchen’s Veltins Arena into a madhouse when he scored against former club Pauli to stage a dramatic comeback and return Schalke to the top flight.
Two points clear at the top of the German second division at kick-off, Schalke needed a victory to secure their promotion with a game to spare and in front of their own fans.
They looked set to be disappointed when Igor Matanovic scored the opening two goals to put the visitors ahead 2-0 after just 17 minutes.
The hosts fought back in the second half, however, with Simon Terodde first converting a penalty and then pounced on a defensive error to bring his side level.
St. Pauli’s Marcel Beifus missed a golden chance to reestablish the lead before Zalazar’s brilliant strike completed a brilliant comeback to send 60,000 Schalke fans into ecstasy.
St Pauli capitulated in the final minutes as Beifus and Matanovic were sent off.
The win brings Schalke back to the Bundesliga at the first attempt after being relegated for the first time in 33 years last season.
The loss buries St. Pauli’s promotion hopes, but the race for the second automatic promotion spot and the play-off spot remains on the edge.
On Saturday night, Hamburg, Darmstadt and Werder Bremen were all tied on 57 points each in second, third and fourth.
Bremen can move into second place with a victory at Erzgebirge Aue on Sunday, ahead of the final round of games next weekend.