Schalke 04 were made to work hard for more than an hour before scoring three times to beat battling Steaua Bucharest 3-0 in their Champions League Group E opener on Wednesday.
Atsuto Uchida gave the German side a lucky lead against the run of play when he floated in a 67th-minute cross to the near post and the ball bounced into the net after a defensive misunderstanding.
Kevin-Prince Boateng, who joined from AC Milan in the close season, doubled the lead in the 78th, completing a swift move involving Jefferson Farfan before Julian Draxler put a gloss on the scoreline five minutes from time.
"We made a superb start to the competition," Schalke coach Jens Keller told reporters. "We started well but then we moved too far back and allowed our opponents back into the game. But all in all we were dominant in the way we ended the game today."
The Germans go top of Group E level on three points with Basel, who stunned 2012 European champions Chelsea 2-1 in London.
Schalke, who have won their group in each of their last two Champions League campaigns, were troubled by the disciplined Romanians, who had to battle through the qualifying rounds to reach this stage of the competition.
"There was a lot of pressure on us before this game and I am happy that it is now finished and we won 3-0," said Boateng, who has won all three matches he has played since joining less than three weeks ago.
"We were a bit nervous after failing to score early on but then we stuck with it, pulled ourselves together and turned the game," he told reporters.
The hosts, who also had to qualify for the group stage, needed time to find their footing.
They quickly carved out two good chances after gaining the lion's share of possession but Adam Szalai's close-range effort was saved and Boateng threatened with a deflected header.
Carelessness gradually crept into Schalke's game, allowing the former European champions, in search of their first win in Germany since 1957, to grow bolder and venture forward.
Schalke defender Uchida came to the rescue in the 54th minute, clearing Alexandru Bourceanu's fine header on the line with keeper Timo Hildebrand beaten.
Adrian Popa came agonisingly close when his left-footed drive from a tight angle sailed in front of the goalmouth on the hour as the pressure on Schalke mounted.
The hosts, however, got an unexpected break when Uchida crossed into the box from the right, the ball bouncing once before rolling in with Steaua keeper Ciprian Tatarusanu left arguing with his defenders.
With Steaua forced to go forward, Schalke made the best of the openings in their defence.
Their second effort was a textbook break with Farfan charging down the right, cutting into the box and Julian Draxler flicking the ball on for Boateng to slot in.
Draxler chipped in on 85 minutes after yet another fine move initiated by Farfan as Schalke's nerves finally settled.
- Sports & Recreation
- Schalke 04
- Atsuto Uchida
- Julian Draxler
- Jefferson Farfan