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Sturdy Schalke seal top spot in Group B

SL Benfica 1-2 FC Schalke 04
Strikes from José Manuel Jurado and Benedikt Höwedes helped Schalke win the section while a late goal in Lyon salvaged third place for Benfica.

Sturdy Schalke seal top spot in Group B
Sturdy Schalke seal top spot in Group B ©UEFA.com

FC Schalke 04 secured top spot in UEFA Champions League Group B with a 2-1 win against SL Benfica after an assured display in Lisbon.

A goal in each half from José Manuel Jurado and Benedikt Höwedes secured the Gelsenkirchen club's first ever win in Portugal, and despite Luisão's late consolation, Felix Magath's side head into the last 16 in good spirits. For the hosts, Olympique Lyonnais' late equaliser against Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC at least meant Jorge Jesus' men finished third and picked up the section's UEFA Europa League spot.

Benfica pressed from the off as they sought to finish their group campaign on a high. Fábio Coentrão's fine run down the left led to him finding Óscar Cardozo in the penalty area, but the Paraguay striker scooped over. Shortly after it was the turn of the full-back on the opposite side to create danger, with Maxi Pereira surging forward and crossing for Javier Saviola, who hammered wide of the near post.

By the 19th minute the home side were boasting over two-thirds of possession, but Schalke took the lead with their first attack. Ivan Rakitić's cross was intelligently chested back by Raúl González and Jurado hit a left-foot shot into the top right-hand corner of Roberto's net.

Magath's side gained in confidence after the goal and took control with their fluid front line of Raúl, Jurado and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar causing problems with their movement. Saviola did have the ball in the net four minutes before half-time when Carlos Martins' shot deflected to him, but he was offside.

Coach Jesus made a double change at the interval, with Nicolás Gaitán and Pablo Aimar coming on in an attempt to give Benfica more cutting edge. Yet Schalke quickly showed their potential on the counterattack and only a superbly timed sliding challenge from Ruben Amorim kept Rakitić at bay. Peer Kluge came even closer on 55 minutes, beautifully controlling Raúl's lofted pass but cushioning his shot agonisingly wide of the post.

With Hapoel now winning in France, Benfica and Aimar came desperately close as the Argentinian beat Neuer, but also the post, from a Martins pass. Höwedes extinguished Portuguese hopes with nine minutes to go, collecting Kluge's header from Rakitić's corner and sweeping home. Luisão's 87th-minute header nearly initiated a late fightback, with David Luiz hitting the post in added time, but the visitors held on for a deserved win.

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