Schalke goes top with 1-1 draw at Montpellier
Schalke clinched top spot in Group B of the Champions League
ahead of struggling Arsenal on Tuesday after withstanding strong
pressure in the second half to earn a 1-1 draw at French champion
Arsenal’s 2-1 loss at Greek side Olympiakos ensured Schalke
finished two points clear of the 2006 finalists.
”Of course we are happy to have finished the group ahead of
Arsenal, as they are one of the big teams in the Champions
League,” Schalke center half Christophe Metzelder said. ”Real
Madrid would be a fantastic opponent in the next stage. ”
Center back Benedikt Hoewedes put the visitors ahead in the 56th
minute with a diving header after Metzelder had nodded Lewis
Holtby’s free kick back across goal.
Montpellier equalized three minutes later when striker Emanuel
Herrera scored at the second attempt after his header had been
saved by goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand.
”I’m proud of my players. Tonight I saw what I wanted to see
from my team. I’m not disappointed, but I think we deserved to win
it,” Montpellier coach Rene Girard said. ”We saw what the
Champions League is about. I hope there is a next time.”
Hildebrand made two excellent saves to deny Herrera as
Montpellier, which is a lowly 13th in the French league, pushed
forward in the closing stages.
”I think we played very well. We had the better opportunities
in the first half and in the second half it was an up-and-down
game,” Schalke coach Huub Stevens said. ”Montpellier certainly
had the chance to win the game, but Timo kept us in it on a number
Although Montpellier finished bottom of Group B with two points,
the positive sign was that it held the German club in both
”Both matches against Schalke were of a good standard,” Girard
said. ”The regrets we can have are the two (defeats) against
Making a rare start, Herrera was in fine form and pounced on
Anthony Mounier’s cross to bring Montpellier back into the
Either side of his goal, the Argentine forward had an effort
athletically cleared off the line by Japan right back Atsuto Uchida
and then went close with a curling effort in the 64th that flashed
past the post as Montpellier got on top.
”Sometimes we’re very demanding of him,” Girard said. ”He
could have won the game on his own tonight. It’s encouraging for
the rest of the season. ”
Schalke twice looked dangerous in the closing stages of the
Midielder Julian Draxler beat his marker down the left and his
fine pass picked out Ciprian Marica lurking in the penalty box, but
goalkeeper Jonathan Ligali dived at his feet to thwart the Romania
Holtby then burst forward, swapped passes with Marica, but his
dangerous cross failed to find a teammate.
Ligali had earlier made two timely interventions, stopping a
pass from reaching Marica and rushing off his line to prevent
Draxler from scoring. The lively Herrera’s snapshot was
Montpellier’s best effort of the first half.