Schalke see off ten-man Basel to progress

FC Schalke 04 2-0 FC Basel 1893
Strikes from Julian Draxler and Joel Matip capitalised on Ivan Ivanov's first-half red card as the German side clinched second place in Group E.

Schalke see off ten-man Basel to progress
Schalke see off ten-man Basel to progress ©UEFA.com

FC Schalke 04 secured their place in the last 16 for the fourth time in seven seasons, eliminating FC Basel 1893 in the process.

Second-half strikes from Julian Draxler and Joel Matip were the consequence of increasing pressure from the Royal Blues following Ivan Ivanov's first-half sending off for the Swiss champions, who will now compete in the UEFA Europa League after dropping behind their hosts into third in Group E.

Basel coach Murat Yakin had said his side would not abandon their attacking principles despite only requiring a draw to progress, but it soon became clear their priority was to give Schalke's talented forward line as little room as possible.

The opening exchanges were duly tight, but even the most astute tactics can be undone by raw pace and Jefferson Farfán displayed that in abundance. It was his sprint and resulting cross which first got the home crowd on their feet 11 minutes in as the disoriented Taulant Xhaka turned the ball onto his own bar. Draxler collected the rebound and pulled back for Max Meyer, whose shot was cleared off the line by Fabian Schär.

The key passage of the first half came 20 minutes later. What initially looked like trouble for Schalke as captain Benedikt Höwedes hobbled off injured soon turned into an advantage as his replacement, striker Ádám Szalai, was impeded by Ivanov and suddenly the visitors were down to ten men.

Schalke's numerical advantage began to tell with Farfán's subsequent free-kick drawing an important save from Yann Sommer, who was scrambling across his goal line again two minutes before the interval to prevent the Peruvian from bundling in.

Indeed, the half-time break came as a welcome respite for Basel, who now had little choice but to defend. They were breached within six minutes of the restart, though, as Farfán found just enough height with his cross to pick out Draxler, who finished coolly on the half-volley.

Farfán was again the architect as the Royal Blues doubled their lead six minutes later. The forward swung a right-wing free-kick into the box to Matip who, as the defence pushed out calling for offside, had the time and space he needed to chest down and plant past the stranded Sommer.

The excellent Farfán created two further chances for Szalai and went mightily close himself with a fine free-kick, but the two-goal margin was sufficient for Schalke to head into the knockout rounds behind section winners Chelsea FC.