Timo Hildebrand

Two from Samuel Eto’o lead Chelsea past Schalke, to top of Champions League group

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Schalke seemed to be taking a chapter from Newcastle’s book, and approach that backfired with Timo Hildebrand’s 30th minute mistake. Although Chelsea had controlled the game’s first half hour, they had yet to create a clear chance before Hildebrand, hurried after putting the ball down ahead of a kick, saw his attempted clearance go off Samuel Eto’o and into his own net from the edge of his penalty area. Absolved of the need to pursue the match, Chelsea would go on to win the teams’ UEFA Champions League match, 3-0.

Thanks to second half goals from Eto’o and Demba Ba, Chelsea takes their first solo lead in their Champions League group, having lost on match day one at home to Basel. Winning their third group match in a row, Chelsea take a three-point lead on Schalke, whose lead over third-place Basel is down to one after the Swiss champions drew at home with Steaua Bucharest.

Schalke had started the match with a series of half-chances before ceding control to their hosts, who eventually started patiently using the possession they were given. Yet through the first 30 minutes, their only shot on goal came from a dead ball situation, a long free kick from Andre Schurrle forcing a diving if easy stop from Hildebrand.

Minutes later, Schalke were behind, a moment’s lapse from their goalkeeper conceding an embarrassing goal. Having put the ball down after his defense had pushed up, Hildenbrand took his time lining up a kick out of his own box. In the interim, Samuel Eto’o closed in seemingly unnoticed from the keeper’s right. By the time he was on Hildebrand’s radar, the Chelsea striker was able to get his leg in front of the ball, the resulting ricochet sending the block into Schalke’s net.

Eto’o second was more conventional, the Cameroonian international put behind the defense to the right of goal by fellow Anzhi Makhachkala escapee Willian. A precise far post finish doubled Chelsea’s lead nine minutes after half time.

Late, a ball lobbed into the penalty area by Frank Lampard saw Demba Ba get on the scoresheet, an athletic turn on his right leg allowing the Senegalese to hit a left-footed volley inside the left post, leaving Hildebrand helpless to defend the match’s final goal.

Coming off weekend disappointment against Newcastle, this was exactly the type of result José Mourinho would have wanted, though it’s difficult to ignore the nature of the opening goal. Eto’o deserves credit for the play, but it wasn’t one Chelsea would have expected from their game plan – a gift from Schalke more than a well-earned score.

If that goal doesn’t go in, does the game play out as it did over the first 30 minutes? With a lot of Blues possession leading to little on Schalke’s goal?

In that sense, the questions from this weekend may not be answered. Now, however, Chelsea gets to pursue solutions from a winning spot, and the top of their Champions League group.


Chelsea: 31′, 54′ Samuel Eto’o, 83′ Demba Ba


Chelsea: Petr Cech; Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, John Terry, Cesar Azpilicueta; Ramires, John Obi Mikel; Willian, Oscar (81′ Frank Lampard), Andre Schurrle (78′ Kevin De Bruyne); Samuel Eto’o (77′ Demba Ba)

Unused subs: David Luiz, Ashley Cole, Mark Schwarzer, Juan Mata

Schalke: Timo Hildebrand; Atsuto Uchida, Benedikt Höwedes, Joel Matip, Denni Aogo; Jermaine Jones, Roman Neustädter; Julian Draxler (62′ Christian Clemens), Kevin Prince Boateng (77′ Sead Kolasinac), Christian Fuchs (67′ Max Meyer); Adám Szalai

Unused subs: Ralf Fährmann, Felipe Santana, Tim Hoogland, Kaan Ayhan

Highlights: A chance to pay homage to Burak Yilmaz, Galatasaray

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For as much talk as there’s been about Barcelona (and boy, have we contributed to it1, 2, 3), Galatasaray deserves their share of press. The Turkish champions went into Gelsenkirchen, knocked off a team coming off a victory over one of Europe’s best teams, and secured their first Champions League quarterfinal appearance since the 2000-01 tournament.

The person behind much of that success is Burak Yilmaz, a Turkish international who led the Super Lïg in scoring last season. That 32-goal campaign with Trabzonspor bought Yilmaz a ticket to Istanbul where he’s led his new team with 14 goals in 21 league matches.

It’s a goal rate that’s actually down from Yilmaz’s Champions League output. With eight goals in as many games, the Galatasaray striker is the competition’s leading scorer, outpacing Lionel Messi by two goals, Cristiano Ronaldo by one.

And it was Yilmaz’s eighth goal of the tournament that turned Gala’s tie with Schalke. Approaching the end of the first half, the teams were drawn 2-2, both sides having taken an away goal. Then a clearance out of Gala’s end put Yilmaz in on Timo Hildebrand. When the Schalke keeper mistimed his run of his line, Yilmaz beat Hildebrand to the ball at the edge of the penalty area. His chip gave Gala to a 3-2 lead.

Though his team would later add a fourth goal, Yilmaz’s score gave Gala a crucial away goal edge. When Schalke equalized through Michel Bastos in the second half, they were left chasing a winner, having only scored once in Turkey.

That chase eventually gave Gala their fourth goal, sealing a place in the final eight for Turkey’s champions.

Highlights from Tuesday’s game, above, are courtesy FOX Soccer.