Schalke 04 strikers Jefferson Farfan and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar hit second-half goals to seal a 2-0 win over Benfica on Wednesday to give their side their first Champions League points.
Neither the Bundesliga hosts nor their Portuguese guests were impressive in front of the posts with just two goals to show for their efforts despite a string of shots on goal for both sides – 12 for Schalke, 11 for Benfica.
Schalke spent 14 million euros bringing Huntelaar from AC Milan and eight million for Raul from Real Madrid, but it was Peru striker Farfan who got the break through when he fired across Benfica’s goal on 73 minutes.
It eased the pressure on the Royal Blues who were growing increasingly desperate in the face of some dogged defending by the Portuguese.
Huntelaar then scored his first Champions League for his club since his August transfer from Milan when he took a neat pass from US midfielder Jermaine Jones on 85 minutes to seal the victory.
“I am very satisfied. That was a tough game, Benfica are a class team,” said Schalke coach Felix Magath.
“We needed something to get into the game, but in the second half we took control and at the end deserved to win.”
The goals spared Schalke’s blushes at the Veltins Arena and gave their fans something to cheer about after their opening 1-0 defeat at Lyon a fortnight ago in Group B.
The Royal Blues have had a disasterous start to the season by losing their first four German league games and the win over twice European Champions boosts some flagging confidence as they are second from bottom of the Bundesliga.
Schalke have already made a better start to their home campaign in European football’s most lucrative tournament than three years ago when they failed to score in their first two home games.
But the defeat extends the Portuguese side’s German misery.
Benfica have now not won in Germany in 18 competitive attempts, but after they opened their Champions League campaign by beating Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC in Lisbon two weeks ago, they are still in with a chance of qualifying from the group.
Lyon’s 3-1 win in Tel-Aviv means the French side are setting the early pace in Group B with two wins and both sides will be chasing a win in their next game when Schalke host Tel-Aviv and Benfica are at Lyon on October 20.
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