Tranquillo Barnetta extended the Royal Blues’ unbeaten start to 2015 and inflicted the first defeat on Gladbach since the turn of the year with Roberto Di Matteo’s men strengthening their claim for Champions League football next season.
It was a minimalist victory for Schalke, who like in their previous two games of the year spent most of the time defending, but their resolve and efficiency saw them through.
After a 10-minute delay as a security alert delayed the arrival of many fans, the action commenced and it did not take long for Schalke to take the lead.
A mistake by Raffael started things moving with Jan Kirchhoff spreading play to Kevin-Prince Boateng and his cross was met by Barnetta at the near post to turn in past a powerless Yann Sommer.
The early goal stung Gladbach and they reacted with fury, Granit Xhaka testing Timon Wellenreuther with a shot which was curling away from Schalke’s 19-year-old goalkeeper, who adjusted well to make the save.
A dangerous cross from Xhaka seemed set to provide Max Kruse with the easiest of equalisers from close range, but Benedikt Howedes got in a last-ditch header to turn the ball wide.
Ibrahima Traore tried to inspire Gladbach when he came on in the second half, but Wellenreuther denied him from a tight angle before Schalke got their first chance in well over half an hour on the break.
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting’s delivery towards Boateng was cut out by a last-ditch lunge from Xhaka, preventing what would have been an almost certain second goal for the Royal Blues.
Gladbach continued to do most of the attacking, though, and Joel Matip almost helped them level as he headed Patrick Herrmann’s cross back just wide of his own goal.
The Foals kept plugging away with 11 Schalke players now packed in behind the ball, and the hosts held on to all three points to leapfrog their guests.