Raul shines as Schalke sinks Hannover
Schalke won the battle of Germany's fallen Europa League participants with A 3-0 victory over Hannover at the Arena AufSchalke taking them closer to securing a place in the Champions League next season.
Jefferson Farfan and Raul were the masterminds of Schalke's win, with the Peruvian forward setting up all three goals and Raul netting two of them.
Klaas Jan Huntelaar also got in on the act, with his 24th goal of the season helping to take Schalke five points clear of fourth-placed Borussia Monchengladbach and just one more win away from guaranteeing a top-four finish.
Hannover, who like Schalke were knocked out of the Europa League on Thursday, remain in seventh position with five games of the season remaining.
Raul headed Schalke in front in the sixth minute when he met Farfan's free-kick with the ball going in off the post.
Schalke were on fire and Farfan then hit the outside of the post with a powerful, angled effort in the 15th minute.
Hannover were showing more after-effects from their European defeat and struggled to keep pace with their opponents.
Restricting them to just a one-goal lead at the break was already an achievement by Mirko Slomka's side, but they were unable to hold out for more than a minute in the second half.
Raul added his and Schalke's second of the game with a touch of class. Farfan was again the provider with a fine ball to the Spaniard, who used his left foot to roll the ball past Ron-Robert Zieler and then instantly threaded it with his right foot just inside the post.
Farfan made it a hat-trick of assists in the 63rd minute when he cut into the penalty area from the right and laid the ball back for Huntelaar to tap in.
Raul was given a standing ovation as he left the field having done his job for the day, and even Schalke chairman Clemens Tonnies, who is hopeful the Spaniard will sign a new contract for next season, could be seen chanting his name in the stands.
The Royal Blues then played down the clock for a comfortable win to keep them on course for a place in the Champions League next season thanks to a 14-point cushion over fifth-placed Stuttgart.