Berlin, Nov 25 (IANS) FC Schalke 04 reaped their fifth win in as many games after beating Nice 2-0 in a UEFA Europa League match here.
The “Royal Blues” maintained their 100 percent record on Thursday as Yevhen Konoplyanka and Dennis Aogo smoothed the way for the victory to eliminate Nice, who suffered their fourth loss in this tournament, reports Xinhua.
After an evenly balanced opening period, Nice ensured the first opportunity of the game when Anastasios Donis’ long-range effort rattled the woodwork in the 13th minute.
However, the opener was scored at the other end of the pitch, as Nice goalkeeper Yoan Cardinale underestimated a deflected cross, allowing Konoplyanka to slot home from close range into the empty goal with 14 minutes played.
As the match progressed, Schalke retracted with the lead behind whereas Nice tried to level the scores through Dalbert, who tested Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann with a low shot in the 26th minute.
After the restart, Schalke increased their efforts as substitute youngster Fabian Reese struck the outside of the post nine minutes into the second half.
As the visitors lacked in penetration, Schalke doubled the lead through Aogo, who converted foul play penalty from the spot in the 80th minute to put the game beyond doubt.
Nevertheless, Schalke had to complete the game with ten men as Bernard Tekepety received his second yellow card of the night in the dying minutes of the game.
“We absolutely deserved the victory today,” Schalke head coach Markus Weinzierl said after the game.
“We scored the goals at the right time and staged a well-positioned defence. The win gives us more confidence ahead of the next encounter. We want to keep things going on Sunday.”
With their fifth straight victory, Schalke remain atop the standings with 15 points in Group I, followed by Krasnodar (seven points), Salzburg (four points) and Nice (three points).