Soccer-Schalke stay strong to beat 10-man Basel

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GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Dominant Schalke 04 deservedly advanced to the Champions League knockout stage with a 2-0 win over 10-man Basel on Wednesday helped by a fine goal from Julian Draxler and a clearly offside effort from Joel Matip.

The Germans, who moved into the last 16 for the second consecutive season and fourth overall, took a deserved lead in the 51st minute through 20-year-old Draxler after dominating a game they needed to win to advance from Group E.

They were lucky to have had their second goal count, however, with at least four Schalke players clearly in offside positions when Matip slotted in from close range to seal the win and relieve the pressure on coach Jens Keller.

Schalke completed a quartet of German clubs in the last 16 with Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen also advancing.

"We knew what was at stake," Matip told reporters. "This victory was also for our manager, it's a difficult time for him right now.

"I looked at the linesman before scoring but he did not do anything so I continued playing. Now we want to keep on working hard and try to be more consistent with our performances."

The win moved Schalke, who are out of the German Cup and have dropped down to sixth in the Bundesliga, above their Swiss rivals into second place with Chelsea securing top spot in the group.

"I have been fighting and will continue to fight," said a beaming Keller, whose future at Schalke is still in doubt.

The Swiss side, who continued their losing streak on German soil in the competition with their fourth defeat in four trips to the neighbouring country, will continue in the Europa League where they reached the semi-final last season.

"Schalke then scored a deserved lead, but I still felt that we would be able to recover from going down one goal," said Basel coach Murat Yakin.

"But then they scored the second goal and the game was over."


Schalke, who had not won any group game since beating Basel on matchday two, carved out their first chance in the 12th minute with Taulant Xhaka sending his clearance on to the crossbar and teenager Max Meyer seeing his rebound shot cleared on the line.

Jefferson Farfan picked up the ball in the box but sent his curling shot narrowly wide as Schalke pressed high in the Basel half.

Things took a turn for the worse in the 31st minute for the Swiss, whose last trip to Germany was a 7-0 demolition by Bayern Munich two seasons ago, when Ivan Ivanov was sent off for a foul on Adam Szalai who was charging clear at the edge of the box.

The Hungarian forward had come on seconds earlier for injured captain Benedikt Hoewedes as Keller, under mounting pressure to turn things around, brought on a striker for a central defender.

Germany international Draxler and 18-year-old Meyer continued to wreaked havoc with their dazzling display of tight dribbling and explosive speed but Farfan failed to stab in from close range in their biggest chance before the break.

Draxler broke the deadlock five minutes after the restart with Farfan delivering a cross at the far post and the 20-year-old drilling in.

Matip was left in the box along with three other Schalke players but neither official signalled for offside and the Cameroon international had little trouble in scoring.

The Swiss were over-run in the final minutes with Schalke squandering a bagful of chances and again hitting the woodwork.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Ed Osmond)