Gelsenkirchen - FC Schalke 04 remain top of UEFA Europa League Group K after making it two wins from two in the competition thanks to a 4-0 victory at home to Asteras Tripolis FC on Thursday evening.
1-0 (Di Santo 28’), 2-0 (Di Santo 37’), 3-0 (Di Santo, P. 44’), 4-0 (Huntelaar 84’)
The Royal Blues gave head coach Andre Breitenreiter an early present ahead of his 42nd birthday on Friday by extending their winning run to six games in all competitions after a composed display at the Veltins Arena. Schalke dominated their Greek visitors from the start and deservedly took the lead when Franco Di Santo expertly flicked in Sascha Reiter’s excellent right-wing cross.
It was not long before the Argentinian striker grabbed his second of the evening, this time glancing in a header from Johannes Geis’ teasing corner. He completed his hat-trick just before half-time by stroking in a penalty. The hosts could have had plenty more goals, with Leroy Sane and Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg missing gilt-edged chances before Klaas-Jan Huntelaar rounded off a comfortable victory with a fourth late on.
Man of the match
Di Santo showed precisely why Schalke signed him from SV Werder Bremen over the summer, demonstrating the full range of his ability with a match-winning performance. The 26-year-old’s movement ahead of his first goal completely outfoxed the Asteras defence, his second effort was a superbly-placed header and he subsequently kept his composure to tuck away the spot-kick and put the match beyond Asteras’ reach.
While Di Santo will deservedly take the plaudits for his match-winning display, it would be remiss to neglect the impact Sane had on the game. The 19-year-old is outrageously talented, blessed with pace to burn and a wise head for someone so young. His speed and willingness to run at his marker led to the Asteras defence backing off, creating space for Schalke to work in around the box – which they exploited to the full.
- Di Santo scored with three of his four shots on goal.
- Schalke had 63 per cent of possession over the course of the 90 minutes.
- The hosts had 17 shots on goal to Asteras’ four.
Schalke: Fährmann – Riether, Matip, Höwedes, Kolasinac – Geis (Ayhan 46’), Höjbjerg, Goretzka (Meyer 73’) – Sane, Huntelaar, Di Santo (Choupo-Moting 63’)
Asteras: Theodoropoulos – Lluy, Goian (Fountas 70’), Sankare, Giannoulis – Ederson (Kourbelis 79'), Iglesias – Hamdani, Zisopoulos, Mazza (Tsokanis 59’) - Giannou