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Schalke seal top spot
Schalke secured top spot in Champions League Group B with an impressive victory away to hapless Benfica.

Having already sealed their passage to the knockout stage thanks to a 3-0 win over Lyon a fortnight ago, Schalke might have been tempted to take their foot off the gas for the final group game.

However, goals by Jose Manuel Jurado and Benedikt Howedes, before Luisao's consolation, gave them the win required to give them top spot ahead of Lyon.

There was still something at stake for Benfica, who entertained Schalke needing a win to ensure they dropped into the Europa League, but the German side were also keen to record a victory and it showed tonight.

Kyriakos Papadopoulos had an early sighter for Schalke but his long-range effort went over the bar.

Carlos Martins had a 20-yard shot for Benfica go narrowly wide in the fifth minute.

The tame opening continued when Oscar Cardozo, returning from injury, hit one over the bar for Benfica with his left foot from 12 yards.

His strike partner Javier Saviola did a little better shortly after when he drilled a right-footed shot just wide.

And in the 19th minute Schalke hit Benfica on the break when Jurado gave them the lead, finding himself in the right place at the right time to coolly slot home from 12 yards with his left foot.

Carlos Martins had another effort in the 24th minute but drilled his 30-yard attempt wide, before Schalke watched Papadopoulous' left-footed shot fail to really test Roberto.

Ivan Rakitic continued the theme with another feeble distance effort which Roberto caught easily, before Peer Kluge volleyed wide from close range.

The momentum swung back to Benfica as Javi Garcia volleyed wide in the 65th minute before Cardozo forced an excellent save from Manuel Neuer, the goalkeeper tipping over his left-footed shot from the edge of the box.

But in the 81st minute it was 2-0. Jurado's corner found Kluge, who nodded it on for Howedes to fire home from close range.

Luisao's 87th-minute header proved too little, too late, but Hapoel Tel Aviv's failure to beat Lyon did at least ensure the Portuguese side secured third spot and with it, Europa League football.
 
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