Schalke draw puts club in must-win situation for UCL finale
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) - Schalke was held to a 0-0 draw at Steaua Bucharest on Tuesday and now needs to beat Basel in its last Group E match to have a chance of progressing along with Chelsea to the Champions League knockout stages.
Basel defeated visiting Chelsea 1-0 in the other group game to move into second spot - one point behind Chelsea and one ahead of Schalke.
''We can actually handle pressure quite well. That's when we always produce our best performances,'' Schalke captain Benedikt Hoewedes said, looking ahead to the game on Dec. 11.
With the second and third-place teams meeting, Chelsea qualified for the knockout stages despite defeat due to its lead in the group.
Bucharest pushed hard for its first win of the competition in a frenetic finale but was unable to improve its miserable record of just one win from 18 European games against German teams.
With three points, the Romanian side is assured of finishing bottom of the group.
Schalke was missing inspirational attacking midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng due to his troublesome knee problem, while fellow attacker Julian Draxler was kept on the bench due to illness. Dutch striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar was already a long-term absentee.
However, the visitors overcame a slow start to create most of the chances in a first half played in heavy snowfall.
Dennis Aogo had the first shot on target in the 18th minute, though failed to trouble Bucharest goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu from a difficult angle.
Federico Piovaccari might have done better at the other end seconds later, but his attempted chip went over the crossbar.
Schalke `keeper Ralf Faehrmann - making his Champions League debut for the injured Timo Hildebrand - did well to punch away Piovaccari's next effort, a well-struck overhead volley in the 32nd.
Christian Fuchs thought he'd put Schalke ahead, only for the goal to be ruled out as the ball crossed the end line before Jefferson Farfan crossed.
''We missed too many chances, but we were also lucky a few times,'' Hoewedes said.
Bucharest improved in the last half-hour, but Andrei Prepelita and Adrian Popa failed to take advantage of a good opportunity. The home team's penalty appeals were waved away when Faehrmann caught Piovaccari with his fist in a clearance.
Cristian Tanase went close from a free kick, and Bucharest substitute Nicolai Stanciu wasted another good chance by shooting too close to Faehrmann, as did Piovaccari with a header in the last minute.
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