Depleted Montpellier snatch late draw at Schalke
GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany |
GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany (Reuters) - Souleymane Camara scored a 90th-minute equaliser to snatch a 2-2 draw for 10-man Montpellier at Schalke 04 in their Champions League Group B match on Wednesday and take the French side's first point in the competition.
Camara made the most of poor Schalke defending to score in the final minute and punish the hosts, who had only themselves to blame for not scoring a third goal from a handful of chances.
"We believed until the goal that we could do it," said Camara. "Maybe it was not evident against a very good team tonight. We came here to get something and we are satisfied to be leaving with a point. Now we need to keep working."
Teenager Julian Draxler cancelled out Montpellier's 13th-minute goal by Karim Ait-Fana with a fine goal of his own in the 26th after a pinpoint through ball from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
Schalke were awarded a penalty early in the second half, after Draxler broke his arm when Montpellier's Garry Bocaly brought him down. After Bocaly was sent off, and Draxler carried away on a stretcher, Dutch striker Huntelaar had no problem converting it.
Huntelaar, however, will surely be kicking himself for firing wide from five metres late in the game as the hosts squandered several clear scoring chances before Camara sneaked in to level.
"We should have finished off the game with the chances we had," said Schalke coach Huub Stevens. "Our problem was with possession when we did not play out our move. We should not have allowed them to break that often because in this competition you are punished if you do that."
Schalke, Champions League semi-finalists in 2011, are on four points, with Montpellier earning their first point in the group. Arsenal are top on six points after beating Olympiakos 3-1.
Stevens surprisingly left Ibrahim Afellay, on loan from Barcelona, and midfielder Jefferson Farfan on the bench, opting for a 4-4-2 with Finland international Teemu Pukki partnering Huntelaar in attack.
The visitors scored first when Morocco international Ait-Fana curled an unstoppable 17-metre shot past keeper Lars Unnerstall for a surprise lead after a cautious start from both teams.
The goal woke up Schalke and Draxler twice beat his marker to threaten with close-range efforts as Stevens had a heated, brief exchange with Montpellier counterpart Rene Girard on the touchline.
Draxler did better in the 26th as Schalke took command of the game with Huntelaar sending him through with a perfect, defence-splitting ball and the teenager rounded the keeper to level.
Seven minutes after the restart Draxler's game was over when he fractured his left arm. Huntelaar scored from the ensuing penalty kick.
Schalke had to endure whistles from their own fans for taking their foot off the gas after the second goal and several good chances were wasted, including Huntelaar's point-blank effort, as Montpellier poured forward.
Schalke were punished in the end for their loss of focus with Camara's fine shot after Atsuto Uchida had failed to clear the ball.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Clare Fallon)
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