Berlin, Nov 4 (IANS) FC Schalke 04 booked their place in the knockout stages of the Europa League after beating Krasnodar 2-0, thanks to goals from Junior Caicara and Nabil Bentaleb in a fourth-round match here.
With two rounds to spare, Schalke cemented their first place in Group I to secure a berth in the round of the last 32 here on Thursday. Junior Caicara and Nabil Bentaleb provided the first half goals to seal the win on home soil, reports Xinhua.
However, things started other than expected for the hosts as the visitors from Krasnodar took the reins from the kick off to press Schalke in defence in the opening period.
Krasnodar staged a bright start on the road as Jaozinho missed the target from promising position before Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann had to defuse an effort from Ricardo Laborde.
Despite grabbing the better start, Krasnodar lacked in accuracy and failed to mark the opener. Instead, Schalke showed a clinical chance conversion when Junrio Caicara utilized the first chance for the hosts to volley home a flicked on cross at the far post with 24 minutes into the encounter.
Schalke gained momentum whereas things went from bad to worse for Krasnodar as Nabil Bentaleb tapped home a rebound from close range into the empty net four minutes later.
The visitors were shocked and unable to respond meanwhile Schalke should have added another goal to their lead but Abdul Rahman Baba pulled wide from inside the box before the break.
After the restart, Schalke retracted with the two-gaol lead and let the visitors do the work. The host' s well-positioned defence were able to keep Kransodar on the distance to put the result beyond doubt after 90 minutes.
"We are delighted about the win, and the progression into the next round," Schalke coach Markus Weinzierl said. "From now on we can focus on domestic matters."
Schalke thus maintain their perfect start in Group I to remain atop the group standings with 12 points from four games. Krasnodar (six points) are in the second place, followed by Salzburg and Nice with three points each.
ajb/vtPublished 04 Nov 2016, 13:08 IST