Ebbe Sand headed a last-minute goal to give FC Schalke 04 a dramatic 3-2 win over Legia Warsawa in their UEFA Cup second round first-leg match at the Wojska Polskiego stadium in Warsaw.
Polish side denied
Earlier, Legia had brilliantly bounced back from a two-goal deficit with two goals in a five-minute spell in the second half, but Danish international Sand broke Polish hearts with a textbook header from Gustavo Varela's corner.
Schalke start well
Schalke, strong favourites going into the tie, started positively and their first chance came after just two minutes when Niels Oude-Kamphuis's persistence paid off but he was denied by the legs of Radostin Stanev. Three minutes later, the Dutch midfield player was again in the thick of the offensive action, but his acrobatic effort was again saved by Stanev.
As the home side responded with some attacking endeavour of their own, Schalke defender Darío Rodriguez was booked for a rash challenge after 16 minutes. A more positive indication of Legia's improvement came after 29 minutes when Adam Majewski brought a fine save from Frank Rost with a well-struck shot from 25 metres.
Varela on the double
However, Schalke reasserted themselves after the break and went ahead after 50 minutes. Again the impressive Oude-Kamphuis played a pivotal rule, bursting aggressively behind a Legia defender on the right before pulling back for Varela to score with a perfectly-timed half-volley. And the Uruguayan doubled the advantage four minutes later when Schalke skipper Sand's through-ball put him clean through and Varela finished clinically.
Dudek sparks revival
However, just when it appeared that Schalke were in complete control of the tie, Legia hit back twice. After 58 minutes, the German side only half cleared from a Legia attack, allowing substitute Dariusz Dudek, younger brother of Liverpool FC and Poland keeper Jerzy, to send a low volley past Rost. Dudek was also involved in the equaliser after 63 minutes. He was sent sprawling by Nico van Hoogdalem's tackle, and Stanko Svitlica stepped up to coolly convert from the penalty spot.
Stung into action, Schalke again took the game to Legia but failed to trouble the hosts until Sand's decisive late intervention.