Christian Fuchs's late strike sealed victory on the night for the Gelsenkirchen side and ended their Greek opponents' own bid for the knock-out stages. The winning goal came despite Schalke's low-key second-half performance after a dominant first period at the Veltins Arena.
Schalke, unchanged after the 2-0 defeat at Bayer 04 Leverkusen, showed a lot of what they were lacking in that weekend encounter, making it clear early on they were there to win three points. They quickly settled into their rhythm, but Klaas-Jan Huntelaar failed to take advantage four minutes into the game when defensive sloppiness provided him with a scoring opportunity. Seconds later Jermaine Jones went close with a swerving strike from the edge of the penalty area before Lewis Holtby's cracker hit the crossbar from a similar position.
Schalke in charge
Huub Stevens' men repeatedly found a way past the deep-lying visitors, launching countless attacks in the direction of the Greek goal, and were guilty of squandering several presentable chances. Julian Draxler saw his long-range attempt denied by Roy Carroll, while Fuchs had the Northern Irish goalkeeper at full stretch with his spot-on free-kick. At the other end of the pitch, Djamel Abdoun's missed effort on one of the rare counterattacks only served as a reminder of how one-sided the encounter was.
At the half-hour mark, Huntelaar unleashed a powerful right-footed shot from a sharp angle just past the left post before Draxler twice failed to hit the target from promising positions, ensuring the first half ended goalless.
Compared to the first period, the action was rather flat after the interval, as neither side created much other than a long-range effort from Huntelaar, which missed the left post by a good yard.
However, Schalke were still the more threatening side, with the Greek visitors showing little inclination to get forward. Again Huntelaar saw an effort denied when he headed Draxler's cross straight into Carroll's arms in the 63rd minute, shortly after Holtby skied the ball before attempts from both Jefferson Farfan and Jermaine Jones bounced off Olympiacos defenders.
Fantastic Mr. Fuchs
Paulo Machado almost put the Greek league leaders in front against the run of play after 72 minutes, when Royal Blues' keeper Lars Unnerstall reacted shakily to the midfielder's shot from distance. Then, at the other end, Fuchs finally broke the deadlock in the 77th minute, firing home from 30 yards to give Schalke a well-deserved lead.
Now needing a goal, Olympiacos still rarely showed up as an attacking entity in the final stages. Instead, it was the home side who came closer to scoring, as both Draxler and Huntelaar found themselves through on goal, but neither was able to get the better of Carroll. Unnerstall denied the only late opportunity for the Greeks when he caught Machado's harmless attempt in the final minute.
Schalke: Unnerstall - Höwedes, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Matip, Fuchs - Jones, Neustädter - Farfan, Holtby (71' Pukki), Draxler (89' Barnetta) – Huntelaar (90'+1 Marica)
Olympiacos Carroll - Torossidis, Manolas, Siovas, Holebas – Modesto (81' Ibagaza) - Maniatis, Greco (65' Fuster) - Abdoun, Mitroglou (74' Djebbour), Machado
Goal: 1-0 (Fuchs 77')