Read how Schalke secured passage into the Champions League knockout stages with a 2-0 home win over 10-man Basel, courtesy of Sports Mole's minute-by-minute coverage.
By Joe Fish, Reporter Filed: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 at 18:50 UK
Last Updated: Friday, December 13, 2013 at 16:14 UK
Schalke 04 and Basel met in Gelsenkirchen this evening knowing that the winner would join Group E leaders Chelsea in progressing to the Champions League last 16.
The Swiss champions needed only a draw to progress to the knockout stages, but were dealt a blow by the controversial 32nd-minute dismissal of Ivan Ivanov.
They held out until the interval, but it took Schalke just six minutes of the second period to break their resistance as Julian Draxler opened the scoring on 51 minutes by converting Jefferson Farfan's cross.
Jens Keller's side had a comfortable 2-0 cushion soon after, when Joel Matip was left in acres of space to tuck under the otherwise brilliant Yann Sommer in the Basle net, despite being in an offside position.
The Germans qualify for the next round as Group E runners-up, while Basel have to make do with the Europa League. Below, you can read how the action unfolded at the Veltins-Arena.
6.53pmEvening! Both Manchester clubs and tournament holders Bayern Munich are among the teams to have already qualified for the Champions League last 16. Will it be Schalke or Basel that join them?
6.56pmWell that will be decided tonight in Gelsenkirchen, where the Germans, currently third in Group E, host the two-time conquerors of Chelsea, with the winner joining the Blues in the knockout stages.
7.10pmWith Klaas Jan Huntelaar still sidelined and there being fitness concerns over Adam Szalai, Schalke boss Jens Keller has again asked Kevin Prince-Boateng to lead the Germans' attack this evening.
7.12pmThe Ghanian starred in an attacking midfield role at AC Milan, after largely flopping at Spurs, but Keller's lack of striking resources means that Boateng is spearheading their forward line tonight.
7.17pmWhile pacey winger Farfan is an experienced Champions League performer, having reached the semi-finals during his time with PSV Eindhoven, Draxler and Meyer are viewed as stars of the future.
7.20pmDraxler, in particular, is seen as one of the hottest properties in European football, with Arsenal reported to be among his admirers. Mayer, only 18, has put in some eye-catching displays himself.
7.23pmAt the other end, highly-rated defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos is a long-term absentee with knee ligament damage, but Keller is able to call on Felipe Santana to deputise at centre-back.
7.26pmThe former Borussia Dortmund star, a finalist in this competition in May, has been in and out of the Schalke team this season, but is tonight preferred to Christian Fuchs as Benedikt Howedes's partner.
7.28pmIn between the posts, Ralf Fahrmann continues to keep out club vice-captain Timo Hildebrand, a German international, who has been benched since the 3-3 draw to Frankfurt on November 23.
7.31pmThe visitors largely maintain the winning formula which has put them in this position, with manager Murat Yakin naming seven players in his XI that have started every one of their five group games.
7.36pmSalah and Streller have probably been the standout stars of their campaign to date, though, with the former scoring a dramatic late winner against Chelsea a fortnight ago and also netting against the Blues in the reverse fixture, on a night when Streller headed Basel to victory at Stamford Bridge.
7.38pmUnder 10 minutes until kickoff at the Veltins-Arena...
7.40pmONE TO WATCH: Salah is continuing to impress and surprise in equal measure for Basel in European competition this season, and the Egyptian will be hoping to put in a performance tonight which catches the eye of his rumoured suitors, and sees his side safely through to the knockout stages.
7.43pmPREDICTION: Basel did brilliantly to shock Chelsea twice, but failure to beat Steaua, either home or away, shows that they struggle when they are not at their best. Schalke have home advantage this evening and I expect that will play an important role in seeing them qualify courtesy of a 2-0 win.
3 minDraxler has vented his frustration to the German press this week about not playing in his preferred number-10 role, but manager Jens Keller has again started with him on the left-flank this evening.
4 minThere is an early sign of Salah's pace as he beats Uchida to a long ball, before playing inside to Streller, whose return finds the the Egyptian's feet, only for him to miscue a cross horribly wrong.
6 minSantana's slack pass is easily intercepted by Frei, who quickly releases Streller through the middle, but the offside flag denies the Swiss forward an early one-on-one chance with Fahrmann.
9 minSalah again gets free down the left. Frei bursts through the middle, but instead the ball is played to the overlapping Stocker, and Santana is quickly across to hold up play and force Basel backwards.
12 minWOODWORK! Crossbar, off the line, but somehow Basel survive! Farfan leaves Schar for dead on the Schalke right and then crosses low into the box. Boateng misses as he stretches to try and make contact, but Xhaca's attempted clearance comes back off the crossbar! It falls to Draxler, who stays composed to lay the ball back for Meyer, whose shot is booted clear off his own line by Serey Die!
14 minA remarkable passage of play, which did not yield Schalke an opening goal, but did show them a way behind the Basel defence, with Farfan likely to have the pace to cause Schar problems all evening.
17 minCHANCE! Lovely feet by Draxler inside the box, who nutmegs Voser as he pokes the ball to Farfan. He feigns to shoot before cutting onto his left foot and bending a shot wide of the far post.
20 minBOOKING: Voser picks up a fairly early caution for clattering into Meyer from behind, as the 18-year-old tried to spin away. That will put the defender under pressure for the rest of the match.
22 minSHOT! Serey Die rolls the ball into Stocker, who registers Basel's first shot on target of the evening, but it is a fairly weak strike from the forward and Fahrmann can comfortably gather.
25 minThat effort from Stocker was a rare forward venture from Basel, as it has been Schalke that have been doing most of the attacking, A clearance falls to Meyer 20 yards out, but his weak volley is no threat.
28 minBOOKING: Howedes makes a real mess of dealing with a punt over the top, allowing it to bounce and as soon as he hesitates, Streller stretches out one of his long legs to beat him to the ball. Howedes tugs him down, is shown a yellow card and looks to have picked up an injury for his troubles.
30 minSUBSTITUTION: Howedes cannot continue, and Keller makes a positive switch, bringing on Adam Szalai in his place. There were fitness doubts over the striker pre match, but his manager has gambled on him here, and made a change which will see Boateng drop back to his more natural position.
32 minRED CARD: IVAN IVANOV - Controversy here as Szalai has an immediate impact! He wriggles free of Ivanov about 20 yards out and is pulled down by the Bulgarian, who is sent off by referee Paolo Tagliavento, which could be seen as a bit harsh considering that he only showed yellow to Howedes for a similar offence moments ago. Was Ivanov really denying a goalscoring opportunity? I'm not so sure.
34 minSAVE! After some passionate Basel arguments are muted, Farfan bends the resulting free kick towards the far corner, but Sommer, who is likely to be busy for the rest of the evening, parries clear.
37 minRight-back Uchida has been forced back by Salah thus far, but now that Schalke have a man advantage he will find himself getting forward more often. He does so to good effect here, crossing for substitute Szalai, whose header from the centre of the goal is high and wide to the right.
39 minDraxler dazzles again on the left with some neat skill, before poking a delayed pass through to Meyer, whose run into the area is checked by Frei, and Schalke then win a corner off the Basel man.
41 minBoateng joins the party now with a clever flick inside and a great first touch from Kolasinac helps the Bosnian burst into the box with pace, and his cross his blocked into the side netting by Xhaka.
43 minOFF THE LINE! Uchida takes a quick throw and Meyer controls it on his chest before smartly turning away from Voser as the ball bounced. The teenager then squares across the six-yard box, and Xacha nearly knocks the ball into his own net, before Sonner scrambles clear under pressure from Farfan!
45 minBoateng controls a Szalai layoff and slices a 30-yard shot deep into the stands, an effort on goal that was made possible by a ludicrous bit of showboating from Draxler, who rolled his studs on the ball with each foot before pirouetting and running the other side of Voser to collect his good work. Outrageous.
8.37pmBasel survive the opening 45 minutes unscathed and, as it stands, would earn the draw that would be enough to see them through. However, Ivan Ivanov's 32nd-minute dismissal means that they have a difficult second-half restricting task ahead of them, with Schalke's attackers looking in fine fettle.
8.40pmJulian Draxler has delivered moments of magic, and Max Meyer also showed some lovely touches as Schalke twice forced Basel to clear off the line. No wonder those two are interesting Europe's elite.
8.43pmDraxler's skill was wonderful to watch, but there is no doubt that the main talking point of that first period is Ivanov's sending off. Szalai may even have been in an offside position when he collected Draxler's pass and wriggled away from the Bulgarian, who was given his marching orders for tugging down the recently-introduced substitute 20 yards out. What will frustrate Murat Yakin further is that Schalke captain Benedikt Howedes, who later left the field injured, was only booked for a similar offence earlier.
8.45pmSTATS: Despite Schalke having a man advantage for 15 minutes, possession in that first half was split equally at 50% each. The Germans had four shots on target compared to Basel's one, though, and also four times as many corners as the visiting Swiss champions. We are nearly ready to resume play...
48 minPatience could be the key to Schalke breaking down their opponents in this second period. Already they are camped in the Basel half, but early passes from Meyer and Neustadter are easily intercepted.
49 minSalah's pace means that Basel should not be counted out as a goalscoring threat themselves. The Egyptian leads a swift break, which eventually results in him being offside from Stocker's return pass.
51 minIt takes the hosts only six minutes to break 10-man Basel's second-half resolve, and it is the standout player from the first period, Julian Draxler that has got it. Farfan delivers a lovely cross to the back post, where the unmarked winger was on hand to convert with a composed, first-time finish. That could be the goal that sends the 2008 semi-finalists through to the knockout stages!
54 minSalah has been shifted inside since Basel went down to 10, and he bursts through the middle again, skipping past two Schalke tackles before being chopped down by Santana, but no free kick given.
57 minAn extraordinary goal sees Schalke move two clear! Farfan whips a free kick from deep on the right into the box, and the whole of the Basel back line charge forward to play offside. There is no flag though, as the ball falls at the feet of Matip, who has the freedom of the stadium, and takes his time before tucking the ball under Sommer and into the bottom corner! That should just about be that.
58 minBasle protest but to no avail. Visiting manager Murat Yakin is in disbelief on the touchline, and no wonder because his training ground routine worked perfectly - Matip was at least two yards offside!
60 minBOOKINGS: It is getting a bit feisty now, as both Frei and Schar pick up cautions in quick succession, the former for dissent and the latter for a nasty high-foot challenge on Szalai.
62 minSUBSTITUTION: Yakin knows that it is now or never, and he throws on a extra striker to try and inspire a miracle comeback. Ivory Coast forward Giovanni Sio replaces midfielder Mohamed Elneny.
64 minThe most optimistic of Basle fans may not have given up hope yet, and here's a reason why. The Swiss outfit have scored 26 of their 32 goals this season in the second half. Clutching at straws?
66 minCHANCE! What a waste by Streller, who attempts an ambitious chip which is claimed comfortably by Fahrmann, when a return pass to Salah on his left would have put the winger through on goal.
67 minSUBSTITUTION: Draxler's evening comes to an end. He looks to have pulled a muscle while reaching for an interception, and understandably in this position, Keller takes no chances and hauls him off. Versatile Austrian Christian Fuchs is on and will deputise on the left wing.
69 minCHANCE! Schalke have a great opportunity to put this game beyond the reach of Basel, if it isn't already. Farfan produces another excellent cross from the right and Szalai rises unmarked to meet it with a header that has power behind it, but is straight into the gloves of Sommer.
71 minIf Draxler has been the star of the night, then Farfan has been a close second. His blistering pace again sees him sprint past Voser, who I imagine will sleep very well on the flight back to Switzerland, with ease, and Szalai is inches away from making contact with his fizzed cross to the near post.
73 minSUBSTITUTIONS: Yakin plays his final cards, or maybe makes a decision to rest important bodies ahead of the weekend. Serey Die and Stocker are eplaced by Arlind Ajeti and Matias Delgado.
76 minThree Schalke corners in quick succession yield nothing which will give the home fans something to sing about. They are already in strong voice, though, in the knowledge that their side has one foot in the knockout stages of the Champions League, and that a potential trip to Madrid or Manchester awaits.
78 minBOOKING: Schalke's Kolasinac takes one for the team by tripping Salah as he cleverly spun away from the Bosnian full-back's tackle on the halfway line. Very cynical, but smart that.
80 minSHOT! Basel know that they need something special now, and Frei tries to produce it, but his 20-yard curling left-footed effort was never in danger of troubling Fahrmann in the Schalke net.
81 minSAVE! Sommer makes an absolutely world-class save to deny Farfan, whose performance tonight is probably deserving of a goal. The Peruvian bends a 25-yard free kick over the wall, which looked to be bound right for the top corner, but Sommer dives to fingertip the shot behind. Outstanding!
83 minCLOSE! Boateng is the latest player in a Blue shirt to come within inches of a Schalke third, as a clearance drops to him 25 yards out, and he fires a half volley, which he drags slightly, narrowly wide.
86 minUPDATE: Chelsea lead Steaua 1-0 in London, and if it finishes that way, Schalke will progress as Group E runners-up. Only two goals from the Romanians will change that in Schalke's favour.
87 minCHANCE! More incredible goalkeeping from Sommer, who firstly charges off his line to meet Szalai just inside the box and prevent him from shooting by foiling the Hungarian at his feet. Farfan collects the loose ball, takes a touch and thinks he has a free run on goal, but Sommer shows lightning quick reactions and somehow claws the ball away from the Peruvian!
88 minSUBSTITUTION: Another promising Schalke youngster, Leon Goretzka, is given the final few minutes to try and make an impression, with his fellow teenager Max Meyer the man withdrawn.
89 minSAVE! This is getting ridiculous now! Schalke may be going through, but Sommer has certainly won his personal battle with Farfan, whose latest attempt, a powerful volley from Uchida's layoff, was destined for the bottom corner before the Basel stopper tipped it onto the post with a wonderful save. There have been some superb individual performances tonight, and Sommer's is right up there!
90+2 minCHANCES! In the three minutes of added on time, Kolasinac blazes over at the back post after being rolled in by Szalai, and Sommer then produces more heroics to deny the Hungarian Schalke's third.
9.38pmFULL-TIME: SCHALKE 2-0 BASEL - Schalke progress to the knockout stages of the Champions League as Group E runners up. Chelsea top the pool after beating Steaua Bucharest
9.42pmWhat a breathless final few minutes, as Yann Sommer single-handedly prevented Schalke from scoring a third. The result was already secured prior to that, though, with second-half goals from Julian Draxler and Joel Matip guaranteeing the hosts a 2-0 win and a place in the last 16.
9.45pmBasel will have to make do with the Europa League for the rest of the campaign, and may feel hard done by this evening considering a couple of debatable decisions by the officials. The 32nd-minute sending off of Ivan Ivanov was a game changer, and perhaps slightly harsh, while Matip was certainly a couple of yards offside for Schalke's second goal. Sommer tried his best, but it just wasn't their night.
9.48pmThat's it from me. Thanks for joining Sports Mole this evening, and be sure to tune in again for live coverage of tomorrow's Europa League group-stage fixtures. Until next time...