FC Schalke 04 got their UEFA Champions League campaign off to a victorious start with a 3-0 home success against FC Steaua Bucureşti.
The Bundesliga outfit began well but looked to be losing control as Steaua seized the initiative either side of half-time. Yet a misguided Atsuto Uchida cross gave the hosts the breakthrough midway through the second period, paving the way for the inspirational Kevin-Prince Boateng and Julian Draxler to wrap up the Group E points in the final 12 minutes.
Confident on the back of three straight wins, Schalke sought to dictate the early tempo but were met by a Steaua team eager to make their own mark. It was Jens Keller's men who fashioned the first opening with nine minutes gone as a wayward clearance gave Ádám Szalai the chance to tee himself up in the box, but the Hungarian international's low strike was held by Ciprian Tătăruşanu.
The Steaua goalkeeper was called into action again soon afterwards when Uchida's deep centre was met by the leaping Boateng, yet the summer signing from AC Milan was always struggling to beat the towering custodian from a tight angle.
Otherwise Schalke's talented attack were kept in check by a robust visiting back line still to taste defeat this season. Captain Alexandru Bourceanu was the driving force as the Army Men grew into the game, testing Timo Hildebrand when Cristian Tănase's long-range strike forced the former German international into a top-drawer save.
Laurenţiu Reghecampf's troops continued their good spell into the second half. Buoyed by his debut double in Romania's First League at the weekend, new signing Pantelis Kapetanos twice went close and Adrian Popa also threatened when he wriggled free before blasting across goal, but with clear-cut opportunities at a premium it required something unorthodox to end the stalemate.
Frustratingly for Steaua it was Schalke who got the lucky break as Uchida's floated cross caught out both goalkeeper and defence, bouncing into the far corner to the delight of the Gelsenkirchen fans.
The opening goal seemed to unravel the Romanian title holders as Schalke added to their tally late on. First Boateng netted with aplomb after being set up by Draxler, who completed the scoring himself by capping a slick passing move with a delicious dinked finish.