Draxler stunner earns Schalke victory

NON-COMMERICAL MESSAGE::The 1-0 win over Basel was briefly interrupted by a Greenpeace protest, while Dortmund exacted revenge on Marseille with a 3-0 win

Reuters, BASEL, Switzerland

Thu, Oct 03, 2013 - Page 19

Julian Draxler scored a stunning goal to earn Schalke 04 a 1-0 victory against Basel 1893 in a Champions League Group E game on Tuesday that was briefly interrupted by a Greenpeace protest.

In the fifth minute, activists dropped down from the stadium roof on cables to unfurl a banner criticizing Russian state-owned Gazprom, sponsors of Schalke and the Champions League.

A spokesman for league organizers UEFA said the incident would be reported and disciplinary proceedings could be launched.

Schalke fans also used pyrotechnics, which are banned by UEFA, at the start of the game.

The only goal came when a partially cleared corner fell to Draxler 25m out and, although it bounced to him at an awkward height, he struck a superb rising shot into the top corner in the 54th minute.

Victory gave the Germans six points from two games and a three-point lead over Basel and Chelsea, who defeated rock bottom Steaua Bucharest 4-0 in Romania on Tuesday.

Schalke coach Jens Keller was almost as happy that his defense kept a clean sheet after they had conceded 16 goals in seven Bundesliga outings, including a 3-3 draw against Hoffenheim on Saturday.

He said he could not understand why the 2011 semi-finalists concentrated so much better in the Champions League.

“We defended very well, the forwards helped the defenders and tactically we were very good throughout the game,” Keller said after Schalke chalked up their second clean sheet in the competition.

Draxler, 20, produced several other moments of breathtaking skill including one shortly before the end of the match where he nearly added another goal after a mesmerizing dribble on the left.

Basel, already playing their 18th game of the season and their sixth in Europe, lacked the finishing touches in the final third of the pitch to match their neat approach work.

Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah showed only flashes of his sublime talent as the Swiss league champions, who reached the Europa League semi-finals last season, failed to build on their stunning 2-1 win against Chelsea last month.

“Things didn’t work for us in the final 30m,” Basel coach Murat Yakin said. “We must learn to do better in standard defensive situations. It wasn’t one of our best days today.”

Kevin-Prince Boateng missed an early chance for Schalke when he dragged his shot wide of the post after a mis-hit clearance by defender Fabian Schaer.

Draxler failed to find the target after getting into a good position and a poor first touch from Jefferson Farfan meant another flowing move came to nothing for the visitors.

Schalke went close again when Roman Neustaedter headed wide from a free-kick just before the break and he also struck the bar with a dipping 30m effort after the restart.

Basel pushed forward after the goal and Schaer saw a dipping shot go narrowly wide from long range while a Giovanni Sio effort was parried by ’keeper Timo Hildebrand.

Draxler nearly added a second goal after a mazy run that ended with him shooting over the crossbar.

DORTMUND-MARSEILLE

Reuters, DORTMUND, Germany

Last season’s runners-up, Borussia Dortmund, cruised past Olympique de Marseille 3-0 on Tuesday with two goals from forward Robert Lewandowski to get their Champions League campaign back on track after an opening Group F defeat.

Setting a quick pace from the start, Dortmund, who wanted revenge for their two defeats to the French in 2011, took a 19th-minute lead when the Polish striker completed a lightning-fast break.

Marco Reus added a lucky second goal in the 52nd, when he sailed a long free-kick into the box and Marseille ’keeper Steve Mandanda let it slip through after an awkward bounce.

Lewandowski sealed their win with his 13th goal in 21 Champions League appearances when he converted a spot-kick after Reus was brought down in the 79th.

Dortmund, who lost their opening group game 2-1 to Napoli and had coach Juergen Klopp suspended, bounced back to move up to second place on three points with their seventh straight home win in the competition since losing to Marseille two years ago.

Marseille, the 1993 European champions, are bottom after losing both games so far, while Arsenal are top on six after beating Napoli 2-0.

“We had to work hard because Marseille are a good team and it would not have worked with just a few kilometers of running,” Klopp told reporters. “Now we are back in the mix and we did it impressively. We struck at just the right times and that is a quality we have. If the team play the way they did today, I’m allowed to relax sitting in the stands. My colleague [Zeljko Buvac] did an outstanding job, but it was not that much fun up there.”

With Klopp exiled to the tribune following an outburst directed at the fourth official during their Napoli defeat and his long-time assistant Buvac in the dugout, Bundesliga leaders Dortmund set a frantic early pace, boxing in the French.

The pressure paid off in the 19th, when Lewandowski, who hopes to sign for Bayern Munich in the January transfer window, tapped in an Erik Durm assist to complete a dazzling break.

Marseille were kept on the back foot and Lewandowski missed a sensational chance three minutes later, with Mandanda denying him with a superb save.

However, Dortmund, with 21-year-old Durm making a stellar debut in the competition in place of injured defender Marcel Schmelzer, showed no signs of slowing down.

The French ’keeper had only himself to blame in the 52nd, when he misjudged a 35m Reus free-kick to bungle the ball over the line after it bounced in the box.

The goal knocked the wind out of Marseille, who retained possession, but were toothless in attack.

“Dortmund are a very good team, they made the best choices tonight,” Marseille defender Rod Fanni said. “We had good intentions, but performed below par.”

Dortmund, who were also missing suspended ’keeper Roman Weidenfeller, kept pouring forward and were rewarded with a third goal when Lewandowski calmly converted his spot-kick.