FC Schalke 04 got off to a winning start in the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League, beating FC Steaua Bucuresti 3-0 in front of home support to go top of Group E.Second-half goals from Atsuto Uchida, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Julian Draxler earned the Royal Blues a deserved, but hard-fought victory at the Veltins Arena, bundesliga.com reports.
Schalke, unchanged from their recent defeat of 1. FSV Mainz 05 in the Bundesliga, made it abundantly clear early on they were determined to keep thee three points. Jens Keller’s men quickly settled into their rhythm against the deep-lying opponents visitors, but toiled when it came to finding a way through Steaua’s robust backline.
Adam Szalai, making his Champions League bow, could have given Schalke the lead after skilfully rounding a Steaua defender, but failed to slot the ball past Ciprian Tatarusanu, who then did well to turn Boateng’s sharp header behind for a corner at his near post.
Swings and roundabouts.
Clear-cut goalscoring chances remained at a premium for Schalke, however, while Romanian outfit seemed content to absorb the pressure whilst seeking out their opportunities in transition. Cristian Tanase came particularly close to finding the net on the half hour mark, drawing a brilliant reaction save out of Timo Hildebrand.
At the other end of the encounter Boateng and Roman Neustädter both sent efforts wide of the target as the sides went it at the break with the deadlock still in tact. The Royal Blues were less fluid and threatening in possession during the opening stages of the second half and were lucky not to fall behind when Uchida cleared a shot off the line with Hildebrand beaten.
Adrian Popa failed to get the better of the experienced keeper soon after, but Jens Keller’s men refused to lose belief and took the lead in bizarre circumstances when Uchida’s cross-cum-shot floated over everyone in the box leaving Tatarusanu helpless as it bounced into the back of the net.
With the bit between their teeth, Schalke upped the pressure as Boateng soon extended the hosts’ lead coolly slotting home from Draxler’s through-ball. With Buchuresti falling apart at the back the Royal Blues pressed their advantage adding a third goal to the scoreline five minutes from time, as Draxler put the finishing touches on a flowing move to send Schalke top of UEFA Champions League Group E.
Schalke: Hildebrand – Uchida, Höwedes, Matip, Aogo – Neustädter, Höger – Farfan, K.-P. Boateng, Draxler – Szalai
Bucuresti: Tatarusanu – Georgievski, Szukala, Gardos, Latovlevici – Bourceanu, Pintilii – Popa, Stanciu, Tanase – Piovaccari
Goals: 1-0 Uchida (67′), 2-0 Kevin-Prince Boateng (78′), 3-0 Draxler (85′)
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