Skewed cross puts Schalke on the way to victory.
A freak goal by Japan defender Atsuto Uchida helped Schalke 04 make a winning start in their Champions League campaign Wednesday in their 3-0 victory over Steaua Bucharest.
The Romanian champions held out for more than an hour until Uchida’s curious goal broke the deadlock on 67 minutes before Kevin-Prince Boateng and Julian Draxler also netted for Schalke.
“That was a lucky goal, but sometimes you need something like that,” said Schalke coach Jens Keller.
“We’ve made an excellent start in the Champions League this season.
“We kept another cleansheet, which makes me incredibly happy. We played patiently and had numerous chances.
“We didn’t put enough pressure on them after the break, but we got the result we needed.”
The Royal Blues were enduring a frustrating night until right-back Uchida floated in a harmless cross.
The ball was too long for Boateng, but Steaua centre-back Lukasz Szukala failed to clear the danger and watched in despair as the ball flew over his head and past goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu.
Szukala’s dejected body language was in sharp contrast to Tatarusanu’s furious glares.
Having finally taken the lead, Schalke found plenty of space in the Bucharest defence with Peru winger Jefferson Farfan being turned down for a penalty appeal moments later.
The hosts doubled their lead when Farfan passed across goal for talented teenager Draxler in the middle and he laid the ball off for Boateng to slam home the second goal on 78 minutes.
It was Boateng’s second goal in as many matches having scored the winner in Saturday’s 1-0 victory at Mainz 05 in the Bundesliga as Schalke extend their winning streak to four games.
Draxler, who turns 20 on Friday, then added the third on 85 minutes when he combined with Farfan before darting in behind the defence and slamming his shot home.
Only the post stopped the hosts scoring a fourth as Uchida’s pass to replacement Christian Clemens, on for Farfan, was drilled onto the post.
Keller’s Schalke face the acid test in the Bundesliga on Saturday when they host European champions Bayern Munich at the Veltins Arena.
Schalke’s next European match is away to Swiss champions FC Basel on October 1, the same night Steaua host Chelsea in Bucharest.