DAVID SMITH - Thursday, November 25, 2010
Jermaine Jones returned to Schalke's starting lineup to help the team reach the knockout round with a win over Lyon while Maurice Edu watched from the sidelines as Rangers crashed out against Manchester United.
FC Schalke 04 3 - 0 Olympique Lyonnais
Jermaine Jones was back in Felix Magath's starting 11 on Wednesday night for their blowout win over Olympique Lyonnais, a result which puts the Königsblauen in control of Group B.
Schalke had finally found their footing in recent weeks, however knew their new-found momentum would be firmly tested against erstwhile group leaders Lyon in a battle for group stage supremacy.
Schalke stormed to a 13th-minute lead thanks to a piece of poor defending by Lyon's Pape Diakhate. The Senegalese international weakly headed an attempted clearance directly to Raul on the edge of the 18-yard box and while he was able to deflect the Spanish legend's subsequent shot, the ball fell directly into the path of the onrushing Jefferson Farfan, who coolly struck his low shot to the left of keeper Hugo Lloris.
The Königsblauen then added another seven minutes later with a stylish attacking display; Peer Kluge received the ball at the midfield stripe following a Lyon turnover and quickly passed it forward to Jose Jurado, who surprised the closing defenders with a slick backheel flick back to his teammate.
Kluge took the ball up the left to near the penalty area then hit a diagonal pass just inside the box towards Raul, who drew the attention of his closest defender, but let the ball roll past him into perfect position for Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to drive into the lower left corner.
Jones saw his first yellow card of the group stage in the 65th minute for a linebacker-style takedown of Miralem Pjanic, and was subbed out shortly thereafter for Joël Matip as Magath sought to shut down the game once and for all.
With the final result in no doubt, Huntelaar added a deserved third goal for Schalke with one minute remaining in regulation, being the recipient of a fantastic crossfield pass from Atsuto Uchida into the area, which he chipped over Lloris for the final 3-0 score.
The win puts Schalke on ten points, now one ahead of their opponents Lyon in the lead of the group. The result combined with Hapoel Tel-Aviv's shocking 3-0 win over Benfica guarantees both teams a place in next year's knockout round, with only the winner of the group to be decided on the last matchday.
Schalke will close group play on December 7 when they visit Benfica, but will first contend with a pair of Bundesliga games in the meantime, beginning with Saturday's trip to Kaiserslautern then followed by a home game against Bayern one week later.
Maurice Edu is still recovering from a knee injury and did not participate in Rangers' heartbreaking 1-0 loss at Ibrox to Manchester United thanks to an 87th-minute spot kick by Wayne Rooney. Rangers are now guaranteed third place in Group C and will enter the Europa League round of 32.
Oguchi Onyewu has not been selected as a part of AC Milan's squad for group stage play, and did not participate on Tuesday evening as the Rossoneri secured their place in the knockout round with a 2-0 victory on the road over AJ Auxerre.