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UEFA Champions League
November 26, 2013
• Arena Naţională, Bucureşti
Referee: B. Nijhuis
• Attendance: 50633
Anyway, that'll be all from me, Sam Wells, tonight. Thanks for following the action with me and, until next time, farewell!
Schalke, meanwhile, will be pleased that they managed to claim a potentially vital draw, though the manner in which they did so will be cause for concern. Although they were solid defensively (Howedes, in particular, was impressive), they looked fairly toothless in attack and are clearly missing the predatory instincts of Klass Jan-Huntelaar. Still, their opportunity to progress remains in their hands and they will be hopeful they can do just that in their forthcoming crunch game against Basel.
Steaua will, naturally, be disappointed with the result tonight but they can take solace from the performance. Although one gets the sense their opposition tonight never really stretched themselves, they still dealt with whatever Schalke threw at them adeptly and can consider themselves unlucky not to have broken the deadlock as they spurned a variety of opportunities throughout the game.
90' + 3'
And, with that, the referee brings an end to proceedings! It finishes 0-0, despite both sides enjoying several chances, meaning that Steaua bow out of the Champions League without winning a game.
90' + 2'
Farfan has a late effort at goal after lovely interplay between Draxler and Howedes. The strike is a decent one but Tatarusanu proves equal to it, claiming the shot adeptly.
90' + 1'
Howedes bundles over Popa and Bourceanu chips the ball into the area from the free kick. Fahrmann, however, claims the delivery on the second attempt and it looks like that could be that.
A golden chance for Steaua to win the game goes begging! Tamase finds Piovaccari unmarked with a lovely delivery but, with the whole goal to aim at, the striker can't head either side of Fahrmann and it looks like it'll remain 0-0 here in Romania. What a chance!
Farfan has a late opportunity to run at the Steaua defence and, despite beating Latovlevici, he can't find a man with his cross. A good run but a disappointing delivery.
Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi
Yellow Card Christian Fuchs
Fuchs is booked after diving in on Stanciu, a minute before he's replaced by Chinedu Obasi, who has just returned from injury. Schalke must be ruing that miss minutes earlier, why didn't Draxler go for goal?
Yellow Card Federico Piovaccari
Schalke want a penalty! Late drama as Draxler goes through on goal, only, instead of shooting, to square to Szalai. The striker struggles to get onto the end of it and, under pressure from Gardos, goes down about six yards from goal. The referee sees nothing in it though and gives a goal kick.
Fahrmann gets his side into all sorts of problems! He comes out for a ball unnecessarily and makes a hash of the clearance, gifting the ball to a Steaua player. Howedes intervenes, however, and the goalkeeper's blushes are spared.
Popa, who's looking more and more lively as we approach the final few minutes, gets forward down the right and drives in a dangerous cross. No-one can meet it, however, and the chance goes begging.
Steaua have a chance to counter through Popa and, after the right winger finds Stanciu, the substitute finds himself through on goal! He attempts a dink over the goalkeeper but Fahrmann stays on his feet and saves with ease. He should have done better there.
Nicolae Claudiu Stanciu
Steaua make another chancge as Stanciu replaces the right back Prepelita, presumably with an attacking-minded switch in mind as we enter the final ten minutes of this contest.
Neustadter, just a minute after his previous effort, wins a header at another set piece, this time a free kick from Farfan. He flicks it towards the back post but, with the Steaua goalkeeper scrambling, he can't quite find the far corner with his header.
After a couple of Steaua changes are made, Aogo does cross the ball in and Neustadter attempts to head the ball goalwards. He manages but he can only divert the ball over the bar.
Alexandru Mihăiţă Chipciu
Gabriel Cristian Iancu
Yellow Card Florin Gardoş
Gardos is booked for an overly enthusiastic challenge on the man booked just minutes before him - Jermaine Jones. Aogo prepares to whip in the ensuing free kick.
Yellow Card Jones
Tanase strikes goalwards and he hits the post! He gets a beautiful shape on the free kick but it dips away at the last moment, flicking the post on its way out for a goal kick. An excellent effort.
Prepelita does well to run at Schalke down the middle, finding a path through before drawing a cynical foul from Jones. The midfielder is booked and Steaua have a free kick in a dangerous position.
The quiet Meyer is replaced by his compatriot and similarly hyped young talent Julian Draxler. Let's see if he can create something for the away side.
Schalke have a sight of goal after Aogo does well again down the left. He finds Farfan, but the Peruvian can't find Jones with his knockdown, allowing Bourceanu to intervene and Steaua to clear.
Schalke have a throw down the right flank but, after Uchida, Farfan and Jones interchange passes, the latter can't find a man as Schalke's struggles to manufacture opportunities continue.
Szukala comes close from the ensuing corner! It's put into the mixer and the Polish centre back gets his head on it, though he can't do anything other than head the ball over the bar.
Controversy as Fahrmann flattens Piovaccari! The Schalke goalkeeper has no right to come for a cross but he comes regardless, punching the striker in the face as the striker wins the aerial battle. Somewhat surprisingly, the referee gives a corner.
Things get a little bit heated between substitute Varela and Fuchs after the former fouls the latter, though things settle down fairly quickly. It's difficult to envisage a game like this boiling over, to be frank.
Schalke continue to look the more threatening in possession, although, somewhat perversely, Steaua have actually enjoyed the better of the challenges. The German outfit haven't really shown a cutting edge in their attacking play tonight.
Latovlevici is down after a coming together with Farfan, the latter appearing to inadvertently step on the Romanian left back. It's been an interesting battle between those two tonight.
Steaua come forward dangerously through Chipciu but Howedes, yet again, spots the danger, intercepting before finding Aogo with a lovely ball. The centre back has put in a towering display tonight.
Jones goes close for Schalke! From another set piece, Farfan whips it in and the midfielder is first to the ball. He heads towards the far corner but gets too much on it as the ball sails wide of the post.
It's Schalke's turn to threaten from a set piece as Farfan whips a corner in to the near post, allowing Howedes the opportunity to head goalwards. He does, but can only succeed in diverting the ball over the bar.
Szukala wins the aerial battle that follows Latovlevici's cross, heading goalwards, though Fahrmann, proves equal to it, tipping over the bar slightly dramatically to keep the game goalless.
A foul is given against Aogo after the left back fouls Popa on the right flank. Latovlevici comes over to take it, clearly intent on whipping the ball into the area.
Steaua have a golden chance to break the deadlock! Popa's touch, perhaps fortuitiously, falls to Piovaccari and, with the keeper advancing on him, he tries a cute cutback, only to find no-one in the middle. He probably should've just had a shot there, in all honesty.
Fuchs, one of the best out there tonight, has a shot from distance but, on his right foot, he gets it wrong and drags it wide of the Steaua goal.
This second half has failed to really get going as of yet, much like the opening of the first. Neither side have tested the opposition keeper since the first half, though Schalke, once again, have enjoyed the better of the play.
The home support are irate after Latovlevci just about keeps the ball in play, putting the ball through to Piovaccari, only to see the offside flag go up. It was a tight one - Steaua can maybe consider themselves unlucky there.
Tanase and Piovaccari attempt to link up on the edge of the area but Howedes is alert to the danger and cuts out the latter's attempted through ball. The Schalke captain has been solid tonight.
Santana isn't happy after an aerial battle with Piovaccari results in the referee giving a foul against the Schalke centre back. It looked soft, though the Brazilian did appear to go in a tad forcefully.
Steaua continue to struggle to move up the pitch as Tanase attempts a run, only to be thwarted by Neustadter. They don't look as though they're on the verge of breaking down their German counterparts.
Schalke have an opportunity as Howedes attacks a cross from Fuchs. He almost gets on the end of it but, under pressure from Latovlevici, he can't quite manage it and the ball runs out for a goal kick.
Steaua enjoy a spell of possession but it's put to an end after Varela's attempts to find Piovaccari were cut out by Howedes. They've struggled to find him at times in this game.
Neustadter has the first strike of the half after Steaua clear a Farfan cross to the edge of the area. It's struck decently but ends up flying over the bar as, if anything, the midfielder gets too much on it.
It appears as thoug Varela has gone to centre back, allowing the considerably frame of Gardos to move into a central midfeidler role. Let's see if he can make his physical presence felt in this second half.
Steaua have, incidentally, replaced the extremely quiet Neagu as Fernando Varela has replaced the central midfielder. The home start the half in the ascendancy with a neat spell of possession.
And we're back underway! Steaua kick off the second half knowing that they need to break the deadlock if they retain any hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages.
Schalke, meanwhile, will also be both pleased and displeased with that opening 45 minutes. They played some nice football but struggled to create clear-cut opportunities - it's difficult to remember them forcing Tatarusanu into action on many occasions. They'll be pleased with how they've worked the ball, particularly down the left flank, but the German outfit will be looking to forge more shooting opportunities in the second half.
Steaua will be feeling mixed emotions about that first half. Although they didn't enjoy the better of the play, they probably, that disallowed Schalke goal aside, enjoyed the better of the chances as Piovaccari had two chances to break the deadlock. The manager will be looking for his side to control the game more in the second period, however, as it's difficult to envisage Schalke not scoring if the second half goes the same way as the first.
45' + 1'
Yellow Card Alexandru Bourceanu
Bourceanu is booked, somewhat harshly, for a challenge on Farfan. It was a foul but there didn't appear to be much in it. And that is the last action of the half as the referee draws a close to a goalless first half in Romania.
Steaua are enjoying a better last five minutes or so as they try to get something going down the left, though that move is put to an end by a hefty Howedes challenge on Piovaccari.
Gardos lopes forward from the back, ball in tow, and, somehow, finds himself breaching the edge of the Schalke area. He clearly doesn't know what to do once he gets there, however, and attempts to find a teammate but only succeeds in giving away possession.
Yellow Card Roman Neustädter
A ball is aimed out towards Popa but Aogo does superbly to step in, win the ball and clear the danger. He's had a strong first half, the Schalke left back, both in an attacking and defensive sense.
Neustadter is, just a minute later, pulled up for an even worse foul, however, as the midfielder chops down Popa with some venom. The referee books him and Steaua have a free kick just inside their own half.
Bewilderingly, the referee doesn't give a foul against Neustadter, despite the midfielder appearing to cynically block off Chipciu in the Steaua midfield, much to the annoyance of the home support.
A better spell for Steaua ends, once again, with a poor delivery. This time it's from the right back Prepelita as Schalke are gifted possession and a chance to hit the home side on the counter.
Steaua finally have an opportunity to trouble the Schalke goal once again but Popa wastes it, putting his cross tamely into the arms of Fahrmann.
Fuchs turns really smartly on the left before finding Meyer. The youngster attempts to feed Szalai but his ball is underhit and Szukala intercepts the pass.
Steaua are given some respite by a poor touch from Howedes as the centre back gives the opposition a throw-in to put an end to a period of concerted pressure from the away side.
Schalke continue to pile the pressure on as it's Aogo's turn, this time, to have a pop at goal. Steaua block the effort but they look on the ropes here - can the away side capitalise on their pressure?
Steaua are in disarray at the back! After Meyer is dispossessed, Latovlevici gives away the ball, allowing Schalke to put it back in. After it's cleared up into the area, Bourceanu, bemusingly, lets it drop before backheeling it back and behind for a corner.
Farfan tries a shot from the subsequent free kick but his strike is poor, flying well over the Steaua goal. He'll be disappointed with that.
As the tempo of the game continues to build, Schalke have a free kick in an extremely dangerous position after Fuchs is fouled.
Disallowed goal! Farfan gets forward down the right, getting to the byline before cutting back to Fuchs, who duly tapped home. However, the ball was deemed to have gone out for a goal kick - on second viewing, it looked like the correct decision, though it was definitely tight!
So close to a Steaua opener! Bourceanu chips a free kick into the far post and Gardos wins the aerial duel, heading down to Piovaccari. The striker tries an acrobatic overhead kick and gets it spot on but Fahrmann proves equal to it with a similarly acrobatic save!
Fuchs is given yet another crossing opportunity and, this time, he gets it spot on. He finds the right winger Jefferson Farfan at the far post and, though the Peruvian beats Latovlevici to it, he can't keep his effort down as the ball flies harmlessly over the bar. Arguably the best chance of the game there.
Steaua almost work something but Tanase overhits his attempted pass to Chipciu. That was a good run from the latter and a good idea from the former - the home side will be wanting more of that as Schalke have begun to dominate this tie in the last ten minutes.
A lovely move involving Jones, Meyer and Uchida ends with Farfan attempting to cut the ball back to his 18-year-old teammate. It just eludes the wonderkid, however, as we are made to wait a while longer for the opening goal.
Aogo, who's getting forward almost as much as the left winger Fuchs, finds himself advanced down the left wing once more. His cross, once again, disappoints however and the danger passes.
Tanase floats past Farfan with a lovely piece of footwork on the left flank but is tackled superbly by Uchida. He claims a foul but I think even he knows that's in vain.
A lovely ball from Howedes finds the typically advanced Uchida down the right wing. His cutback finds Neustadter but the rangy midfielder can't sort his feet out in time to find a shot on target.
Fuchs misplaces a pass and Chipciu attempts to capitalise, running into the space inbetween Schalke's midfield and defence. Jones does excellently to get back, however, sliding in and putting a halt to the Steaua attack.
Schalke use their left flank once more, with Fuchs once again afforded the time and space to drive a cross into the area. It's a decent ball in but Tatarusanu does well to claim the delivery.
Piovaccari, who's putting in a shift despite appearing a little isolated, can't quite control a ball forward to him and Schalke have possession once more.
Schalke are applying some pressure now, though they can't quite work an opening to shoot. Szalai almost manages to do so after a knockdown from Santana but Gardos intervenes and the chance is gone.
Another chance! Bourceanu plays a quite lovely pass into the path of Piovaccari and, though the striker beats Howedes to it, he can't keep his effort down as he lobs the ball over the ball. It was a difficult chance to take, in fairness to the marksman.
The first shot of the game! It's a fairly tame one but it's a shot nonetheless. After bright work from Meyer down the left, the ball falls to Aogo in the box but he can't really get hold of the strike and the Steaua goalkeeper claims with ease.
We're still yet to have a shot on goal as the majority of the game continues to be played in the middle of the back. Popa is given a talking to by the referee after an overly enthusiastic challenge on Jones but it's not deemed worthy of a booking.
Tanase plays a lovely ball through, aimed at the advancing Chipciu but Uchida spots the danger, sliding in and clearing for a throw. That was a clever bit of play from the Steaua vice-captain.
Meyer gets his first chance to run at the Steaua backline and, despite being afforded plenty of space, ends up spurning the opportunity, trying one too many stepovers and falling over the ball. He'll be disappointed with that.
Schalke work a nice move to the left, eventually allowing Fuchs to try and whip in another cross. The cross finds no-one and the chance goes begging but that was better from the away side.
Farfan whips in Schalke's first corner of the game but Szukala clears at the near post. Another poor corner. The Peruvian does better at the second attempt but the home side do well to avert any danger once more with a good headed clearance.
Both sides aren't finding their teammates with much success; in the space of a minute, Aogo finds no-one with an unexpected cutback before Piovaccari can't find Chipciu with a lay-off on the halfway line.
Farfan and Uchida attempt to link up down the right but the latter's pass is put out for a throw as both sides struggle to come up with the invention needed to break the deadlock.
Bourceanu's subsequent corner is poor, failing to clear the first man and, as such, we've still yet to have a shot on goal at the National Stadium.
Popa gets away free down the right after a neat pass from Piovaccari but he dwells on the ball too long and Santana gets back to put the ball behind for a corner. He should have done better though, he took too long trying to pick out a man and, in the end, found no-one.
The game has yet to really spark to life as both sides have enjoyed spells of possession without really threatening their opposition. It's Steaua's turn at the moment but they're struggling to break down Schalke's densely-packed ranks.
Piovaccari threatens down the right but Santana proves both his strength and his pace, shrugging the striker off the ball and playing back to his goalkeeper - good defensive work from the Brazilian.
Popa loses the ball to Fuchs, operating on the left wing tonight, who tackles and plays against him for a throw. From the subsequent throw, it is eventually worked to the same man, who attempts a cross. It's blocked, however, and the away team have another throw.
That's a little bit better from the Schalke goalkeeper as, after Chipciu attempts to put Piovaccari through, Farhmann intervenes, coming out and clearing adeptly.
It's Steaua's turn to enjoy a spell of possession now after Fahrmann makes a bit of a hash of another clearance, this time booting the ball out of play needlessly.
The goalkeeper, Fahrmann, deputising for Hildebrand tonight, gets off to a shaky start as, after a spell of possession culminates in the ball coming back to him, he attempts to clear but gets it all wrong. Fortunately for him and his teammates, Steaua cannot capitalise and he is let off.
And we are underway! Schalke kick off proceedings as they look to secure their path to the knockout stages.
With snow slowly but surely covering the pitch here at the National Arena, the teams are coming out from the tunnel as we are now minutes away from kick off!
Jens Keller, meanwhile, makes several changes from the side that started their 3-3 draw with Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday. Ralf Fahrmann is afforded a rare start in goal as first-choice goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand is ruled out with a hip injury, while Roman Neustadter, Christian Fuchs, Felipe Santana and Adam Szalai also come in to replace Sead Kolasinac, Joel Matip and two of Schalke's stars in Julian Draxler and Kevin-Prince Boateng.
Steaua make three changes from the side that drew 1-1 against CS Panduril Targu Jiu at the weekend, with the most notable change being the return of on-loan striker and top scorer Federico Piovaccari, who has recovered from a hip problem in time to lead the line in place of Pantelis Kapetanos. Ionut Neagu and Alexandru Chipciu are the other two players to come in, replacing Daniel Georgievski and Nicolae Stanciu respectively.
Schalke: Fahrmann; Uchida, Howedes, Santana, Aogo; Neustadter, Jones; Farfan, Meyer, Fuchs; Szalai.
Steaua: Tatarusanu; Prepelita, Szukala, Gardos, Latovlevici; Bourceanu, Neagu; Popa, Chipciu, Tanase; Piovaccari.
And here come the team line-ups:
They'll be eager to end matters tonight, especially after slipping up at the weekend - they threw away a two goal lead at the weekend, eventually drawing 3-3 with Eintracht Frankfurt after going 2-0 up in the first half. With both sides looking for a potentially decisive three points, this could be a cracker!
The stakes, meanwhile, are not quite as high for Schalke as even a loss would not take qualification out of their hands; a win in their last game against Basel would send them through regardless of tonight's result. Nevertheless, they'll be keen to wrap things up as early as possible and, should Chelsea beat Basel, three points here would cement their qualification for the knockout stage, taking considerable pressure off the last round of fixtures.
That, however, is by no means an easy task, particularly when taking into account the ease with which the Germans dispatched Steaua in the return fixture (the Romanians lost 3-0). However, the home side tonight are going well domestically - they remain unbeaten after 12 games and sit in second - and will fancy their chances of causing an upset tonight.
Steaua Bucharest come into this game knowing that they need three points if they are to retain any hope of qualifying for the knockout stages; a win would put them on five points - level with Basel in third should Chelsea, as expected, beat the Swiss outfit in the other game in Group E tonight. Three points would also put them a point behind tonight's opponent's, Schalke.
Good evening and welcome to live coverage of tonight's Champions League clash between Steaua Bucharest and Schalke, I'm Sam Wells and I'll be guiding you through tonight's proceedings.
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