DAVID SMITH - Thursday, September 30, 2010
Jermaine Jones helped Schalke to an important home over Benfica as a second-half substitute while Maurice Edu went the distance as Rangers held off Bursapor to claim a piece of the Group C lead.
FC Schalke 04 2 - 0 SL Benfica
Jermaine Jones saw minutes from the bench for Schalke on Wednesday, assisting on their insurance goal as a pair of late scores saw them past their visitors Benfica.
After losing their opening game in Lyon and faring little better in Bundesliga play, Schalke desperately needed a home win over the Portuguese champions to give any glimmer of hope that they could match the heroics of their 2007-08 quarterfinal run.
The hosts quickly grabbed control of the game shortly after the opening whistle and were clearly the better team in the opening period, however entered halftime with nothing but a series of frustrating near misses to show for their extensive efforts.
Having been left on the bench from the start by head coach Felix Magath, Jones entered the fray midway through the second half and Schalke quickly found the final push they needed to win just minutes later.
Lukas Schmitz fed the ball to Jefferson Farfan in the middle, with the Peruvian forward on target with his low shot to the right corner in the 73rd minute for the lead.
Jones helped Schalke add an insurance goal 12 minutes later when he gathered a hard pass from Spanish legend Raul, then sent it back to the middle of the area for Dutch attacker Klaas Jan Huntelaar to put away from seven yards for the final 2-0 win.
The victory lifts Schalke to second place in Group B, with their next game in the competition at home on October 20 against last-place Hapoel Tel Aviv. More pressing to the team is their visit to Nürnberg on Saturday afternoon as they try to crawl out of the league basement.
Rangers Glasgow 1 - 0 Bursaspor
Maurice Edu played the full 90 minutes for Rangers, as they moved into a two-way tie for first place of Group C with their narrow 1-0 home win over Bursapor on Wednesday.
Rangers were looking to atone to the home fans for their horrendous record in Ibrox last season, where they failed to register a single point through three games, allowing ten goals in the process.
While Bursapor were coming off a 4-0 thumping in their first Group C game two weeks ago, Walter Smith's squad was nevertheless justifiably wary of a team that has still proven to be by far the best in the Turkish Süper Lig.
Looking to solidify the midfield, Smith inserted Edu into the middle of the park as compared to the weekend's win over Aberdeen, and the move succeeded in severely limiting any chances the Turkish team had to approach goal.
The lone goal of the game came in the 18th minute and effectively killed off any chance of a high tempo affair. A cross from the right by Steven Whittaker was headed towards the danger area by Kirk Broadfoot, and Steven Naismith had no problems to knock it into Dimitar Ivankov's goal from six yards out.
Edu had a fine chance shortly into the second half when he connected on a long free kick from Kenny Miller, however his attempt missed to the right.
Bursapor rarely threatened, with their final glimmer of hope being a dangerously-positioned free kick in the last seconds that was easily cleared by the staunch Rangers defense.
An identical win by Manchester United in their game against Valencia means the two teams are equal on top of the group. Edu and his teammates will next host Valencia on October 20. In the meantime, they continue their torrid league start with a visit to Hearts on Saturday.
Oguchi Onyewu is not included in AC Milan's 25-man squad for the Champions League group stage, and did not participate in their 1-1 draw with Ajax on Tuesday.