Schalke ended an eventful season on a resounding high with a 5-0 win over Duisburg in the DFB-Pokal final on Saturday.Dutch striker Klaas Jan-Huntelaar struck a brace, with Jose Jurado, Benedikt Howedes and teenager Julian Draxler netting the other goals in a rout of their second-tier opponents at the Berlin Olympiastadion.
It was the fourth DFB Pokal success in Schalke’s history and first since 2002, securing passage to the 2011/12 Europa League.
Schalke’s Bundesliga form was a major disappointment this season as they slumped from runner-up in 2009/10 to a distant 14th place.
The poor results saw coach Felix Magath sacked in March.
But their form in knockout competitions was the exact opposite.
Under first Magath and then his replacement Ralf Rangnick they made it all the way to the semi-finals of the Champions League before losing to Manchester United.
And they received their reward for an enterprising style of football under Rangnick with a comprehensive cup-final victory.
For their part, Duisburg had overcome the likes of Cologne and Kaiserslautern to reach the final, but the Bundesliga 2 team were no match on the day.
Draxler, 17, had earlier made a name for himself with a last-minute extra-time winner against Nuremburg to put Schalke through to the semis.
Fittingly he was on target for the first in Berlin, volleying home from outside the area 18 minutes into the match.
Huntelaar made it 2-0 just five minutes later following some excellent work from Jefferson Farfan.
And defender Hoewedes was left unmarked from a corner to nod Schalke 3-0 ahead just before half-time.
Huntelaar turned provider 10 minutes into the second half, splitting the Duisburg defence and allowing Spaniard Jurado to get in on the scoring act.
Former Ajax man Huntelaar then completed the scoring himself with 20 minutes to go courtesy of an error from beleaguered Duisburg goalkeeper David Yelldell.
Goalkeeper and fans’ favourite Manuel Neuer captained the Schalke team in what is expected to be his last match for the club.