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Steaua and Schalke open with a stalemate

FC Steaua Bucureşti 0-0 FC Schalke 04
The visitors had the best of things but could not create enough openings to pick up the points against a resolute Steaua outfit.

Schalke's Christian Fuchs holds off the attention of Andrei Prepeliţă
Schalke's Christian Fuchs holds off the attention of Andrei Prepeliţă ©Getty Images

FC Steaua Bucureşti and FC Schalke 04 could not be separated as they kicked off their UEFA Europa League Group J bids with a goalless draw.

The visitors had the best of proceedings in Cluj-Napoca but could not find a way through a determined Steaua rearguard. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar came closest to engineering a decisive goal, yet even he found the crossbar in the way of his second-half attempt.

With the prize of playing a European final on home soil on offer in this season's competition, perhaps the hosts could be forgiven for their nervy start. If Schalke enjoyed the better of the play in the first half, though, they did not gain anything to show for it. Indeed, clear chances were few and far between as the section rivals rather felt their way into the campaign.

A 35th-minute Raúl González header was about as good as it got for the visitors before the break, but it was comfortably palmed away by Ciprian Tătăruşanu. Huntelaar also had a sighting, though his firm drive was bravely blocked by Pablo Brandán. The closest Steaua came was when Cristian Tănase nearly capitalised on some indecision at the back, yet for the most part the battle for supremacy was taking place in the middle of the pitch.

That nearly changed ten minutes after the break when Jefferson Farfán sped to the byline and cut back for Huntelaar, who swept a first-time shot on to the bar. Ralf Rangnick's side became more urgent as time ticked down but were mainly limited to speculative efforts as both teams opened with a point.

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