FC Schalke 04 made light of their domestic travails as Julian Draxler's superb half-volley gave them victory at FC Basel 1893 and left the Bundesliga strugglers atop UEFA Champions League Group E.
The contrast could hardly be greater between the position of Jens Keller's side in uncomfortable proximity to the German top flight's relegation zone and their lofty European perch with a 100% record after two matches in the group stage. They owed their second successive triumph to Draxler, whose breathtaking 54th-minute strike was one of the visitors' rare highlights in a game in which the hosts proved the more enterprising.
Keller had raised eyebrows with a starting lineup featuring no recognised striker, making Kevin-Prince Boateng the most advanced of a phalanx of attacking midfielders. He might have quickly justified his coach's bold tactical tweak had he volleyed in following Fabian Schär's untimely miskick. Disappointment was etched on the Ghanaian international's face, however, as the ball flew past Yann Sommer's left-hand upright.
That scare apart, Basel were composure itself, which was perhaps little surprise given the teams' wildly contrasting domestic form. The crisper, more fluid football came from the Swiss champions and one such move led to Mohamed Salah nimbly sidestepping out of a tight spot; unfortunately for Basel, his rising shot was as unsightly as his footwork had been delightful.
The Egyptian's pace was a pressing concern for Schalke, however, while Basel's movement frequently looked as if it would unravel the visiting back four. Yet both sides might have seized the initiative before the break, but first Roman Neustädter and then Marco Streller at the opposite end saw headers beat both goalkeeper and far post.
Neustädter would come closer still just after the interval, though his volley would surely have dipped under rather than hit the crossbar had it not glanced off Fabian Frei en route. The chance was born of a brilliant dash of flair by Draxler, who did not wait long before applying his prodigious talent to still greater effect. When a corner was cleared to him outside the area, the 20-year-old positioned himself meticulously before elegantly arrowing a half-volley beyond Sommer. Technically and aesthetically, it was a thing of beauty.
Behrang Safari and Schär both sent dipping efforts flying narrowly over Timo Hildebrand's goal while substitute Giovanni Sio's drive forced the Schalke goalkeeper into the only uncomfortable save he had to make – but Murat Yakin's men proved unable to build on their shock matchday one defeat of Chelsea FC.
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