Gelsenkirchen – FC Schalke 04 qualified for the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League with a 2-0 victory over FC Basel 1893 at the Veltins Arena.

Ivan Ivanov was shown a straight red card on the half-hour mark for a professional foul on Adam Szalai, and goals from Julian Draxler and Joel Matip after the restart secured a comfortable win for the Royal Blues, who finish second in Group E.

Basel down to ten

Schalke – roared on by a partisan home crowd at the Veltins Arena – almost took the lead when Jefferson Farfan’s cross was turned onto his own crossbar by Fabian Schär. Max Meyer was first to the rebound, but Schär recovered his composure to clear the 18-year-old’s effort off the line and out of harm’s way. The hosts had another good opportunity moments later as Farfan dribbled his way into the box, before turning and firing just wide of Yann Sommer’s far post.

The Royal Blues were dealt a blow just before the half-hour mark when captain Benedikt Höwedes appeared to hurt his groin in a tangle with Marco Streller. The skipper was unable to continue and even picked up a yellow card for his troubles, but the man who replaced him – Hungarian striker Szalai – was immediately involved in the action. The 26-year-old was hurled to the ground by Ivanov, who was adjudged to have been the last man by the referee and was given his marching orders.

Visitors under pressure

Sommer proceeded to make a string of excellent saves, first from Farfan’s resulting free-kick, then from Szalai and Farfan again as Schalke looked to press home their one-man advantage. Sead Kolasinac tried his luck from distance, before a marauding run from Julian Draxler almost resulted in a presentable chance for Kevin Prince Boateng, but Schär managed get on the end of the 20-year-old’s cross and clear to safety.

The second half began as the first had ended, with Basel pinned inside their own half and Schalke looking determined to find the breakthrough their dominance deserved. The Royal Blues’ pressure finally paid off five minutes into the second half when Farfan’s deep cross from the right evaded Szalai, but Draxler appeared unmarked at the far post to tap in from close range and send the home fans into raptures.

Matip makes it two

The Knappen fans didn’t have to wait long for the second goal. Another Farfan delivery found its way to Matip who, with the away defence nowhere to be seen, had time to take the ball down, pick his spot and slide the ball past Sommer to double Schalke’s advantage. At the other end, Streller almost got on the end of a hopeful ball forward, but Ralf Fährmann, who had had precious little to do up to that point, was out to smother the ball.

A Szalai header was well held by Sommer, and the 24-year-old keeper had to be at full stretch shortly after to stop another Farfan free-kick from flying into the top corner. The Peruvian, whose performance merited a goal, was thwarted by the woodwork in the closing stages, but the result was rarely in doubt as Schalke advanced to the knockout stages of Europe’s premier club competition at Basel’s expense.


Schalke: Fährmann - Uchida, Höwedes (31' Szalai), Santana, Kolasinac - Neustädter, Matip - Meyer (88' Goretzka), Farfan, Boateng - Draxler (66' Fuchs)

Basel: Sommer - Voser, Schär, Ivanov, Xhaka - Serey Dié (72' Ajeti) - Salah, Elneny (61' Sio), Frei, Stocker (72' Delgado) - Streller

Goals: 1-0 (50' Draxler), 2-0 (57' Matip)

Red cards: 29' Ivanov

Matthew Howarth