Schalke coach Andre Breitenreiter called on his team to build on their 2-1 win over Mainz as they prepare to begin their UEFA Europa League campaign.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar made up for missing a fourth-minute penalty by scoring the winner for Schalke just past the hour mark, after Mainz had fought back to reach half-time level at 1-1.
Huntelaar’s response to his penalty miss exemplified Schalke’s belief at the Veltins Arena, with Breitenreiter thrilled with his team’s mentality as they registered their second win of the 2015-16 Bundesliga season.
“Right from the start we saw a team that had absolutely no doubt who would win the game. Fight, passion and relentless running – they had everything,” Breitenreiter said of his players.
“Our positional play was good, we had many chances. We could have wrapped the game up by half-time. Unfortunately we went into the break at 1-1, but Mainz are a good team with a lot of quality; they showed that after the first 30 minutes.
“At half time I told the lads that we would win the game, no doubt about it.
“I am happy that Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored the winning goal after [he] missed his penalty, especially after such a difficult week with the Dutch national team.
“The fans spurred us on brilliantly, because they could see that their team were doing everything to win the game. Now we can go into the Europa League match against APOEL Nicosia full of confidence.”
Schalke will travel to Cyprus to play APOEL on Thursday in their first match in the Europa League’s Group K.
Huntelaar notched his second goal of the season against Mainz to secure three points, with the Dutch striker firing his shot into the net from a tight angle.
The 32-year-old admitted he was relieved to score after Mainz goalkeeper Loris Karius saved his early spot-kick.
“We played very well in the first half, had lots of chances and should have been leading a lot earlier on,” Huntelaar said.
“But we knew if we carried on playing like that the goal would eventually come. Then it worked in the second half.
“So I was really relieved and happy after the goal, especially having missed the penalty earlier on. All in all it’s a great day for us, we’re delighted.”