GELSENKIRCHEN Germany (Reuters) - Schalke 04 had to come from a goal down to rescue a 1-1 draw against underdogs Maribor on Tuesday having failed to replicate their improving Bundesliga form in the Champions League.
Damjan Bohar gave the visiting Slovenians a surprise lead against the run of play in the 37th minute with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar levelling 11 minutes after the restart before Schalke missed several good chances to win the game in the second half.
The Ruhr valley club, who had recovered their league form with two wins in succession, looked slow at the back and were repeatedly caught napping despite dominating possession.
The result leaves the Germans on two points in Group G, following their opening draw at Chelsea, with Maribor also on two, following their 1-1 draw against Sporting Lisbon.
Schalke were eager to confirm their improving form and, with Julian Draxler back from a league suspension, showed their intentions from the start, Dutchman Huntelaar racing into the box but firing against the keeper. Despite the hosts’ domination, it was Maribor’s Dare Vrsic who almost scored when he tried his luck with an audacious 50-metre lob with Schalke keeper Ralf Faehrmann out of position, but his effort landed on top of the net. Kevin-Prince Boateng should have done better when he headed a deep Christian Fuchs cross wide at the far post as Schalke kept the Slovenians on the back foot but lacked a clinical finish. They were also vulnerable at the back when Maribor decided to counter-attack, and in the 37th minute Bohar slotted in after Mitja Viler was sent through down the left wing after some quick passing. Schalke shook off the setback early in the second half when Huntelaar made the most of a bad backpass from Viler to thread the ball past two defenders and keeper Jasmin Handanovic as the hosts breathed a collective sigh of relief. The goal sparked Schalke into life, and they spent most of the second half in the Maribor box, Boateng and Draxler repeatedly going close, but the Germans failed to add to their score.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, Editing by Neville Dalton