The hosts took an eighth-minute lead when former Wolfsburg winger Daniel Caligiuri converted from the penalty spot, but shortly afterwards Rexhbecaj was in the right place to equalise when Admir Mehmedi's effort came back off the post. Koen Casteels superbly denied Mark Uth early in the second half and Wout Weghorst shot wide at the other end, before Caligiuri added his – and his side's second – with 12 minutes left on the clock to seal a 2-1 win for Schalke. Next up for the Wolves is the visit of Bayer 04 Leverkusen on Saturday (kick-off: 15:30CET).
Bruno Labbadia opted for three changes to the Wolfsburg side that dramatically beat Augsburg 3-2 in the final fixture prior to the winter break, with Gian-Luca Itter (bench), Josuha Guilavogui (injured) and Daniel Ginczek (injured) dropping out. Their replacements were Jérôme Roussillon, Rexhbecaj and Renato Steffen respectively, the latter of whom was making his first start since October.
Rexhbecaj's maiden strike equalises
The Wolves made an enterprising start in Gelsenkirchen, Mehmedi drawing a good save from Schalke keeper Alexander Nübel within five minutes. Just three minutes later, however, the hosts took the lead, Caligiuri converting from the penalty spot after William fouled Alessandro Schöpf. Undeterred, the visitors continued to monopolise possession and were deservedly level soon after. From wide on the right, Steffen delivered a fine cross to Mehmedi at the back post and although the Swiss' finish bounced back off the post, Rexhbecaj was following up to poke home his first Bundesliga goal. Nübel was then called into action again to deny Yannick Gerhardt one on one, while at the other end, Schöpf and Matija Nastasic both spurned chances prior to the interval.
Caligiuri settles it late
Schalke emerged the stronger of the two sides for the second half, Uth's header forcing Casteels into an excellent low save within five minutes of the restart. Weston McKennie was next to go close, but after a slight lull in proceedings, the Wolves almost took the lead, Weghorst dispossessing Salif Sané inside the area, but shooting just wide from a tight angle. The hosts responded in kind, upping the ante, and reclaimed the lead with 12 minutes remaining when Caligiuri collected McKennie's through ball and fired high past Casteels. Labbadia rang the changes in the closing stages and John Anthony Brooks almost snatched a late equaliser, but Schalke held firm to claim three points.
FC Schalke 04: Nübel – Caligiuri, Sané, Nastasic, Oczipka – Stambouli, Rudy – Schöpf, McKennie (Serdar 90'), Uth (Wright 90') – Skrzybski (Kutucu 90')
VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels – William, Knoche, Brooks, Roussillon – Arnold, Gerhardt (Malli 87') – Rexhbecaj (Brekalo 72'), Mehmedi, Steffen (Klaus 84') – Weghorst
Goals: Caligiuri (8'), Rexhbecaj (20'), Caligiuri (78')
Yellow cards: McKennie
Referee: Manuel Gräfe (Berlin)