The decisive goal came through a stunning second-half strike from youngster Julian Draxler to go top of the Group E standings.
Strong Schalke start
A Schalke side looking for a Swiss tonic to domestic ills began brightly in Basel, using the fluidity of their front four to trouble a defence which conceded seven in Munich during its last outing against German opposition. The hosts were shaky early on here, as Kevin-Prince Boateng struck a volley inches wide of the right hand post after a defensive error. The link-up between Boateng, Julian Draxler, Max Meyer and Jefferson Farfan was promising much going forward, but familiar defensive worries remained, as Basel’s Mohamed Salah was allowed too much space in the 19th minute but blazed his chance over.
Ten minutes after Salah’s chance, Schalke, enjoying a spell of pressure in the opposition half, created another opportunity of their own with Meyer and Farfan linking up beautifully to send the Peruvian through, but he just wasn’t quick enough to get on the end of the ball rolled into the box. The best chance of the half came moments before the break at the other end though, as Basel captain Marco Streller glanced past Timo Hildebrand’s far-post, catching the Royal-Blues’ defence flat-footed.
Draxler takes the points
Jens Keller’s half-time team-talk evidently instilled some fresh motivation into the visitors, for whom Roman Neustädter volleyed off the bar after brilliant work from Draxler. Schalke's No10 was the main man again when the guests deservedly broke the deadlock two minutes later. A corner was headed clear as far as Draxler on the edge of the penalty box, who twisted his body and demonstrated exquisite technique to slice the ball past a helpless Yann Sommer.
The goal shook a Basel side which had scored in every competitive match this season, but their attacks left gaping holes behind midfield which Boateng and Szalai repeatedly failed to capitalise upon. As Basel came further forward in search of an equaliser, former VfL Wolfsburg man Giovanni Sio put a great chance wide in the 76th minute. Nevertheless, Schalke held on to record a crucial victory and boost their chances of progressing to the knockout rounds.
FC Basel 1893: Sommer - Voser, Schär, Ivanov, Safari (Delgado, 84')- Diaz, Xhaka (Sio, 62') - Salah, Frei (Degen, 84'), Stocker - Streller
FC Schalke 04: Hildebrand - Uchida, Höwedes, Santana, Aogo (Kolasinac, 78') - Höger, Neustädter - Farfan (Szalai, 45'), Meyer (Hoogland, 85'), Draxler - Boateng
Goals: 0-1 (Draxler 53')