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Schalke continues recovery with 1-0 win over Lokomotiv

October 3, 2018
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Schalke's midfielder Weston McKennie heads the ball during the Champions League Group D soccer match between Lokomotiv Moscow and FC Schalke 04 at the Lokomotiv Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

MOSCOW (AP) — Weston McKennie’s late header gave Schalke a 1-0 win over Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions League on Wednesday as the German team continued to recover from a poor start to the season.

Neither team had much cutting edge as chances were missed on a wet night in Moscow, but McKennie made the difference in the 88th minute when the 20-year-old U.S. midfielder leapt unmarked at the far post to head in Yevhen Konoplyanka’s corner. It was McKennie’s first professional club goal.

The win leaves Schalke with four points in Group D and is its second victory after a six-game winless run which included five straight defeats in the Bundesliga.

“This important win should change the direction our season is going,” McKennie said. “We haven’t had the best start and will definitely do better.”

Playing its first Champions League home group game since 2003, Lokomotiv had the better of Schalke in the first half but its finishing was poor. The Russian champion recorded just one shot on target all game when Schalke keeper Ralf Faehrmann parried Dmitry Barinov’s shot from the edge of the penalty area in the 27th minute.

With striker Fyodor Smolov out injured, “we didn’t have forwards who could have come on and added some spice,” Lokomotiv’s veteran coach Yuri Syomin said, adding that his team was so tired it lost focus for the corner which led to McKennie’s winning goal.

“You lose concentration when you’re tired and I think our players were very tired in the last eight or 10 minutes,” Syomin said.

Lokomotiv has now lost its opening two Champions League games. Moored in midtable in the Russian league, it is struggling to repeat the form that saw it claim a surprise title last season.

In the other Group D game, Porto beat Galatasaray 1-0 to sit tied with Schalke on four points from two games.

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