Substitute Max Meyer scored in the second half to put Schalke into the knockout stage of the Champions League with a 1-0 victory in Maribor on Wednesday.
Schalke reached the knockout stage for the second consecutive season after Chelsea’s 3-1 victory over Sporting Lisbon. Chelsea won Group G with 14 points, while Schalke took second with eight. Sporting, who would have advanced with a victory, finished with seven and will play in the Europa League. Maribor were eliminated with three points.
“I am very pleased with our performance,” Schalke coach Roberto di Matteo said. “We knew that the match would not be decided in the first half and that we need a well-organised defence to play well in attack.”
Mayer came on in the 56th and scored six minutes later, capitalising on an error by Maribor goalkeeper Jasmin Handanovic.
Atsuto Uchida crossed from the right and Handanovic dived and pushed the ball out but straight at Mayer, who slotted home from just inside the penalty area.
Schalke had started to press in the second half and were rewarded with the goal.
It was Maribor that had the best chance in the first half but Uchida blocked consecutive shots from Zeljko Filipovic and Marcos Tavares on the line.
Aleksandar Rajcevic prevented Schalke from taking an earlier lead, one minute before Mayer came on. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar broke through but his shot struck the inside of the post and Rajcevic managed to clear off the line.
Dennis Aogo also had a strong effort tipped over by Handanovic.
“We knew that Chelsea was leading at half-time but it was a tricky game,” Aogo said. “We knew that one goal could knock us out.”
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