FC Schalke 04, winners of the tournament in 1997, cruised through to the third round of the UEFA Cup, holding Legia Warszawa to a 0-0 draw in the Parkstadion in Gelsenkirchen.
After Schalke's 3-2 win in Poland a fortnight ago, neither side proved as convincing in front of goal this time, although Schalke's defence turned in an impeccable second-half display. Schalke only needed to avoid defeat before kick-off, but coach Frank Neubarth chose to field a strong eleven from the start. The only absence was Jörg Böhme, who was not included in the squad for disciplinary reasons.
Despite early pressure from Neubarth’s side, it was Legia who came closest to taking the lead. On 21 minutes, Stanko Svitlica was clean through on goal but goalkeeper Frank Rost was quick off his line, and the striker shot over.
Schalke replied by throwing men forward en masse. Emile Mpenza spurned two good chances before Niels Oude-Kamphuis almost gave them the lead on 28 minutes. Gerald Asamoah beat two men on the right, before passing to Mpenza. His lay-off found Oude-Kamphuis, whose shot was well saved by Radostin Stanev.
With the onus on Legia to get back into the game in the second half, it was disappointing to find them content to sit back and let Schalke come at them. If their plan had been to counterattack, they were foiled by the impressive Hajto and Nico van Hoogdalem, who gave little ground.
Indeed, Hajto was impressive at the other end on 49 minutes, striking a 30-metre free-kick with venom and accuracy. The reliable Stanev got his body behind it and held comfortably. Schalke retained possession well without threatening, although they should have got the winner on the night with ten minutes to go. Ebbe Sand played in Asamoah on the right of the area, but his low shot was saved well by Stanev.
Schalke too strong
Legia coach Dragomir Okuka said that Schalke had been simply too strong for his team, and suggested the Germans' late first-leg winner had swung the balance in their favour. "Schalke were in a good position before the game," he said. "It was entirely correct that they should progress to the next round. We tried everything but it was just too hard, especially in such an intimidating atmosphere."
Neubarth believed Legia had had their chances, but agreed with Okuka that Sand's late goal in Warsaw had proved crucial. "Warsaw were a tough side and had many chances, but they were in a difficult position after the previous game," he said.