Schalke slides toward relegation after 0-0 with Mainz

BERLIN (AP) — Despite a new coach, Schalke took another step toward Germany’s second division on Friday with a scoreless draw in the Bundesliga against relegation rival Mainz.

The Gelsenkirchen-based club had been hoping for a change of fortune under new coach Dimitrios Grammozis, its fifth of a turbulent season, but the old problems remained and its winless run stretched to nine games since its only win of the season.

Schalke remained last, eight points behind Mainz, Arminia Bielefeld and Hertha Berlin. Bielefeld has two games in hand, while Hertha hosts Augsburg on Saturday.

Schalke appointed the previously little-known Grammozis on Tuesday, two days after a purge of five senior club staff including the coach, sporting director, team coordinator, lead fitness coach, and the assistant coach.

The 42-year-old Grammozis made three changes from the team that lost to Stuttgart 5-1 last weekend, bringing in goalkeeper Frederik Rönnow, midfielder Raman Benito, and the 18-year-old Kerim Çalhanoğlu for his Bundesliga debut. Çalhanoğlu is the cousin of Turkey and AC Milan midfielder Hakan Çalhanoğlu.

But the home team rarely came out of its own half and showed little sign of getting the win it needed to rekindle any slim hopes of Bundesliga survival.

Schalke defender Shkodran Mustafi went close with a rare chance when his header after a corner produced a fine save from Mainz goalkeeper Robin Zentner in the 18th.

The visitors pushed harder after the break, pinning Schalke back without creating clear-cut chances, and Schalke’s injury misery continued when Sead Kolašinac went off with what looked like a left hamstring problem in the 78th.

Zentner denied Suat Serdar with Schalke’s clearest chance shortly afterward, and Jonathan Burkardt forced Rönnow into action at the other end.

Schalke’s players looked exhausted toward the end, but the visitors were unable to take advantage.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

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