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Schalke sail past Maccabi Haifa on Stevens' return

FC Schalke 04 3-1 Maccabi Haifa FC
Christian Fuchs scored in either half to help Huub Stevens make a winning return to FC Schalke 04, who now top Group J.

Schalke sail past Maccabi Haifa on Stevens' return
Schalke sail past Maccabi Haifa on Stevens' return ©UEFA.com

A Christian Fuchs goal in either half helped Huub Stevens make a winning return to FC Schalke 04 as the Bundesliga side recorded a 3-1 victory against Maccabi Haifa FC.

Stevens won the UEFA Cup during his first stint in Gelsenkirchen, and Fuchs' maiden European goal after only eight minutes set the freshly installed Schalke coach on course for a happy introduction to its successor competition. Though Idan Vered equalised before the break, a wonderful Fuchs free-kick midway through the second half and José Manuel Jurado's late strike sent Schalke top of UEFA Europa League Group J.

Maccabi had not won in seven away games in European competition but belied that record in a start in which Eyal Golasa and Vered made consistent inroads into the hosts' defence. While Schalke's rearguard held firm, Maccabi's fractured when Julian Draxler and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar combined to free Fuchs to drill into the bottom corner.

Only just turned 18, Draxler surprises with his skill, strength and speed. Indeed, he used the former after snapping onto a loose ball to tee up Raúl González, who fired over, before then employing a combination of the latter two qualities to muscle goalwards to no avail.

Maccabi have no such prodigy in their ranks, but Vered matched Draxler's tenacity to equalise. When Fuchs partially intercepted his pass forward, the midfielder unleashed a shot, and was quickest to the rebound to steer in after Ralf Fährmann parried.

Despite the setback, Schalke remained positive. Jefferson Farfán's angled ball was headed wide by Raúl before the Peruvian international went close himself, striking a post with a drive. A foul on Jurado, a second-half substitute, allowed Fuchs to bolster his reputation as a set-piece specialist with a crisp drive that found the bottom corner. Jurado burst forward to add number three himself with eight minutes left.