PSV Eindhoven did enough to indicate that last year's run to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals was no fluke, with a hard-fought victory over FC Schalke 04 in the Netherlands.
Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink headed the only goal of the Group E encounter in the 33rd minute, meeting DaMarcus Beasley's in-swinging corner with a powerful back-post header that left goalkeeper Frank Rost helpless. The Dutch side had opportunities to double the lead before Schalke came back strongly in the second half but couldn't break PSV down.
PSV, with Theo Lucius and Eric Addo slotting into a reorganised defence, started with 19-year old Ibrahim Afellay on the right of midfield, while Vennegoor of Hesselink was used as a lone striker. Schalke's lineup looked more adventurous, with Lincoln occupying a floating role in front of a four-man midfield, behind forwards Ebbe Sand and Kevin Kuranyi.
The game nevertheless began conservatively, with both teams keen to give nothing away; defending in numbers and building steadily. Indeed, 15 minutes had gone by the time a cross-cum-shot from PSV's Belgian international Timmy Simons forced Schalke custodian Rost into his first save, tipping over at the expense of a corner. Two minutes later Jefferson Farfán shot weakly at Rost from a good position.
The chances awakened PSV, who started to push forward more, but the final ball continually let them down, their lack of incisiveness allowing Schalke to soak up the pressure. But the deadlock was broken just after the half-hour, and like so often during PSV's 2004/05 campaign, it came from a dead ball.
PSV began piling on the pressure. Beasley almost made it two but his free-kick was touched over by Rost, and the keeper then had to clear hastily as Vennegoor of Hesselink homed in on a loose pass. Five minutes before half-time Phillip Cocu hit the side-netting with a long-range effort and having survived until the interval only a goal down, Schalke kicked off the second half firmly on the front foot.
Lincoln fired a 49th-minute free-kick just over but it took an error from the hosts for Schalke to really threaten an equaliser, as Marcelo Bordon seized on a lax back-pass from Michael Reiziger to feed Ebbe Sand who headed over from close range. Strike partner Kuranyi volleyed high and wide a few minutes later as the visitors upped the ante.
Schalke brought on Søren Larsen for fellow Dane Sand in the 71st minute and he almost made an immediate impact, setting Kuranyi clear but the German international was denied by the onrushing Heurelho Gomes. The Brazilian keeper then pushed away a drive by Hamit Altintop at full stretch, and at the other end, Afellay had a wonderful opportunity to seal victory with seven minutes remaining but dithered and his poorly-struck attempt was easily stopped by Rost.
Larsen almost headed a late leveller but, under pressure, he could not direct his effort on target as PSV held on to open their Group E campaign with a hard-fought success.
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