Schalke 04's Boateng celebrates a goal against Steaua Bucharest during their Champions League group E soccer match in Gelsenkirchen (Photo: Reuters)
Schalke 04 were made to work hard for more than an hour before scoring three times to beat battling Steaua Bucharest 3-0 in their Champions League Group E opener on Wednesday.
Atsuto Uchida gave the German side a lucky lead against the run of play when he floated in a 67th-minute cross to the near post and the ball bounced into the net after a defensive misunderstanding.
Kevin-Prince Boateng doubled the lead in the 78th, completing a swift move involving Jefferson Farfan before Julian Draxler put a gloss on the scoreline five minutes from time.
Schalke, who have won their group in each of their last two Champions League campaigns, were troubled by the disciplined Romanians, who had to battle through the qualifying rounds to reach this stage of the competition.
The hosts, on a four-game winning streak in all competitions, needed time to find their footing.
They quickly carved out two good chances after gaining the lion's share of possession but Adam Szalai's close-range effort was saved and Boateng threatened with a deflected header.
But carelessness gradually crept into Schalke's game, allowing the former European champions, in search of their first win in Germany since 1957, to grow bolder and venture forward.
Schalke defender Uchida came to the rescue in the 54th minute, clearing Alexandru Bourceanu's fine header on the line with keeper Timo Hildebrand beaten.
Adrian Popa came agonisingly close when his left-footed drive from a tight angle sailed in front of the goalmouth on the hour as the pressure on Schalke mounted.
The hosts, however, got an unexpected break when Uchida crossed into the box from the right, the ball bouncing once before rolling in with Steaua keeper Ciprian Tatarusanu left arguing with his defenders.
Their second effort was a textbook break with Farfan charging down the right, cutting into the box and Julian Draxler flicking the ball on for new signing Boateng to slot in.
Draxler chipped in on 85 minutes after yet another fine move initiated by Farfan as Schalke's nerves finally settled.
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