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Hertha beats virus-depleted Schalke 2-1 in Bundesliga

Hertha Berlin took another step toward Bundesliga survival on Wednesday with a 2-1 win over Schalke, whose squad was depleted by the coronavirus.

Schalke was missing seven players due to COVID-19 -– three due to positive test results and four more due to their close contact to the infected individuals -– while Hertha was slowly returning back to full strength after its outbreak of cases.

Defender Marvin Plattenhardt started his first game after recovering from the virus and forward Dodi Lukebakio also returned, coming off the bench for his first game in a month. Lukebakio was sent off late, however, after yellow cards for a tactical foul and bad challenge.

Berlin's Jessic Ngankam (27) celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Hertha BSC Berlin and FC Schalke 04 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (AP PhotoMartin Meissner, Pool)

It left Hertha holding on for a win that lifted the side to 13th in the 18-team league with two rounds left. Schalke hit the post twice in quick succession in injury time.

Schalke has already been relegated to the second division and was only playing for pride, while Hertha was playing its fourth game in a catch-up schedule after having to quarantine for two weeks. Coach Pál Dárdai was among those infected.

Hertha goalkeeper Rune Jarstein, the first to become infected last month, will not play again this season. The Norwegian was very sick and needed treatment at Berlin’s Charité hospital.

Schalke's goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann, right, punches the ball away during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Hertha BSC Berlin and FC Schalke 04 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (AP PhotoMartin Meissner, Pool)

Hertha was given an early shock when Amine Harit put Schalke ahead in the sixth minute. Sead Kolasinac played the ball to Harit, who eased past three defenders before shooting inside the far post.

Boyata equalized with a thumping header after a free kick in the 19th. It was the Hertha captain’s first goal of the season.

An injury to Polish striker Krzysztof Piatek added to Hertha’s problems in attack before the hour mark. The club’s top scorers Matheus Cunha and Jhon Cordoba were already out through injury, while Maximilian Mittelstädt didn’t play after getting concussed in Hertha’s draw with Arminia Bielefeld on Sunday.

Berlin's Krzysztof Piatek is helped off the field after an injury during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Hertha BSC Berlin and FC Schalke 04 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. Berlin's head coach Pal Dardai, far left, watches. (AP PhotoMartin Meissner, Pool)

Jessic Ngankam, who came on for Piatek in the 58th, finally rewarded the visitors’ pressure in the 74th after a good run from Nemanja Radonjic, who was causing Schalke’s defense problems on the left.

Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann denied Radonjic what would have been Hertha’s third goal, before Lukebakio’s sending off reduced Dárdai’s options in attack further for his team’s next game – at home to relegation rival Cologne on Saturday.

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Schalke's goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann, right, punches the ball away during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Hertha BSC Berlin and FC Schalke 04 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (AP PhotoMartin Meissner, Pool)

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Schalke's Shkodran Mustafi (30) tries to score during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Hertha BSC Berlin and FC Schalke 04 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (AP PhotoMartin Meissner, Pool)

Schalke's Shkodran Mustafi (30) reacts after missing a scoring change during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Hertha BSC Berlin and FC Schalke 04 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (AP PhotoMartin Meissner, Pool)

Berlin's head coach Pal Dardai, center, reacts on the sideline during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Hertha BSC Berlin and FC Schalke 04 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (AP PhotoMartin Meissner, Pool)