The Gelsenkirchen side had to come from behind after a terrific Lukas Podolski strike to take all three points against a dangerous home outfitSchalke did not miss the creativity of the injured Lewis Holtby and Raul as they earned a 4-1 victory over Koln at a rocking RheinEnergieStadion.
Lukas Podolski gave the hosts a terrific start when he scored a stunner in the fourth minute but Schalke rallied and scored four second-half goals through Ciprian Marica, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Marco Hoger to take all the points.
The hosts began the game with terrific energy and fashioned their first chance in the third minute. Milivoje Novakovic got up to head a Podolski corner but Atsuto Ushida was on the post to clear the ball away, though the replays suggested it was going wide.
One minute later Koln did find the back of the net. Podolski picked up the ball about 45 yards from goal, he drove into space and unleashed a venomous left-foot shot that arrowed into the bottom corner.
Koln became reckless, gaving away too many unnecessary free kicks in their own half, and they were almost punished in the 16th minute. Christian Fuchs’ delivery was misjudged by an unmarked Joel Matip and the ball hit his shoulder and looped over the bar.
Schalke’s end product was non-existent and the deficit was then almost doubled but Podoloski blazed over from 10 yards out in the 43rd minute.
Podolski was causing all sorts of problems for Schalke and almost set up Novakovic for a tap in but Metzelder intercepted the square ball across face of the goal.
Fuchs had been whipping in constantly excellent crosses all game and it was his ball that led to the equaliser. With an hour played his cross was met by the head of Marica who got between the central defenders, levelling to score his first goal for the club.
Koln still looked lethal on the attack and forced Lars Unnerstall to save terrifically from Peszko and Podolski either side of a decent Jurado effort midway through the second half.
Schalke, however, collected the lead in the 72nd minute when Huntelaar rattled the post with a great header and Marica reacted quickest, beating Pedro Geromel and sending the ball into the empty net.
Five minutes later it all fell apart for the hosts. Julian Draxler played a quick give-and-go on the edge of the box and was caught by a flat-footed Miso Brecko. He was sent off having only been on the pitch for eight minutes and Huntelaar dispatched the penalty to double his side’s advantage.
It became a rout in the 82nd minute when Hoger became the second Schalke player of the day to break his duck for the club. A one-two with Huntelaar was enough to cut apart Koln’s defence and take Rensing out of the game, allowing the midfielder to slam the ball into an empty net.
The win means Schalke remain in third position by virtue of goal difference despite being level on points with Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. Koln now sit just three points off the relegation play-off zone having gone four games without a win.