Christian Fuchs fired Schalke into the last 16 of the Champions League as the German side beat Olympiacos 1-0 in their Group B clash at the Veltins Arena.
Schalke went into the game knowing a victory would see them progress with a game to spare and Fuchs’s long-range strike earned the home side all three points with 13 minutes remaining.
And, with Arsenal’s 2-0 victory against Montpellier also seeing the Gunners through to the knock-out stages, Olympiacos will have to be content with third place in the group and a place in the Europa League.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar went into the match in a rich vein of form having scored in each of his four Champions League appearances so far this season.
And Huntelaar should have opened the scoring after four minutes after escaping his marker at the back post but the Dutch striker could only fire over after meeting Fuchs’s cross.
Jermaine Jones then cut in from the left flank before firing a curling shot narrowly wide of Roy Carroll’s left-hand post as Schalke searched for an early opener.
The hosts went close once again with 11 minutes on the clock when Lewis Holtby sent his fierce shot crashing against the crossbar with Carroll well beaten.
Julian Draxler then tried his luck from distance but his looping shot fell straight into the arms of Carroll, before the former Manchester United keeper tipped Fuchs’s free-kick around the post.
Huntelaar then flashed a shot inches wide of the upright after Jefferson Farfan’s shot was blocked.
Olympiacos were happy to sit back, soak up the pressure and ride their luck at times, before venturing forward on the counter-attack.
But the Greek side failed to make the most of a four-on-two situation, with Djamel Abdoun’s poor pass failing to find a team-mate minutes before the break.
Schalke then hit Olympiacos on the counter with half-time looming but the 19-year-old Draxler’s powerful shot from the edge of the box failed to trouble Carroll.
Huntelaar started the second half like he did the first, failing to hit the target after trying to catch Carroll off-guard with an early shot.
Olympiacos continued to give the ball away, inviting pressure on their goal, and Schalke were only denied by a superb piece of defending by Jose Holebas, who first thwarted Farfan before blocking Jones’s follow-up shot.
Schalke enjoyed their best spell of the match with 20 minutes remaining, with Paulo Machado's long-range shot bouncing awkwardly in front of Schalke keeper Lars Unnerstall, who just about did enough to put the ball behind for a corner.
But Schalke took the lead soon after, with Fuchs receiving the ball in a central position 30 yards from goal, before being giving time to tee up a shot and fire into the far corner to score his first goal for Schalke in 11 months.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Christian Fuchs - Schalke: The 26-year-old left-back seized his opportunity to fire Schalke into the last 16 with a pin-point strike from distance.
SCHALKE: Unnerstall 6, Hoewedes 6, Holtby 7, Jones 6, Papadopoulos 5, Farfan 7, Fuchs 8, Huntelaar 7, Draxler 7, Matip 6, Neustadter 6. SUBS: Pukki 6, Barnetta 6, Marica 6.
OLYMPIACOS: Carroll 6, Maniatis 6, Modesto 5, Machado 6, Mitroglou 7, Holebas 7, Siovas 6, Manolas 6, Greco 6, Torossidis 6, Abdoun 5. SUBS: Fuster 6, Djebbour 6, Ibagaza 6.
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- Christian Fuchs