Schalke 1 Lokomotiv Moscow 0: Russians miss chance for Europa League reprieve
Lokomotiv Moscow missed their chance to qualify for the Europa League as they were beaten 1-0 by Schalke at the Veltins Arena on Tuesday.
Schalke had already booked their place in the knockout stages of the Champions League but Lokomotiv's hopes of European football in the new year were reliant on them getting a win in Germany and Galatasaray failing to gain victory at home to Porto.
Gala were beaten 3-2 by the Portuguese champions but Lokomotiv could not keep their own end of the bargain, sending the Turkish club into the Europa League as Group D's third-placed side.
The visitors rarely looked like breaking the deadlock in Gelsenkirchen and were ultimately downed by a stoppage-time strike from Alessandro Schopf.
The opening minutes were interrupted by a couple of injuries, as Lokomotiv striker Eder took a minute or two to recover from a clash of heads with Naldo and Schalke wing-back Hamza Mendyl had to be replaced by Baba Rahman following a heavy challenge from Dimitri Barinov.
Those two incidents meant the clubs' physios were kept busier than their goalkeepers early on, with neither Ralf Fahrmann nor Guilherme truly tested during a tepid first half.
Schalke emerged for the second half with more attacking intent, yet Lokomotiv's Aleksey Miranchuk drew an impressive one-handed diving save from Fahrmann in the 53rd minute.
Domenico Tedesco's men - much-changed from their 2-1 league defeat to Borussia Dortmund at the weekend - started to create more chances as Lokomotiv went in search of the goal that would prolong their European campaign, with Yevhen Konoplyanka and Suat Serdar seeing shots kept out by Guilherme.
The home side should have moved in front 15 minutes from time, when Matija Nastasic and Serdar somehow managed to fail to get a touch on Naldo's ball across goal.
How has that not gone in?!
— FC Schalke 04 (@s04_en) December 11, 2018
And Lokomotiv's hopes were finally dashed a minute into injury time, with Schopf firing home the rebound after Serdar had a shot saved.
What does it mean? Schalke bounce back
While the victory is of no significance to their Champions League campaign, the result will be a welcome fillip for Schalke after their Revierderby defeat on Saturday, particularly having fielded an unfamiliar starting XI. Spirits were clearly lifted, with the fans in full voice following Schopf's strike.
Howedes and Farfan welcomed back
With two former Schalke men in the opposition XI, the Bundesliga club took the opportunity to recognise the pair's contribution with a pre-match presentation.
The players were also afforded a warm round of applause by the home fans shortly before kick-off.
Eder offers nothing
Portuguese forward Eder started the match as Lokomotiv's only out-and-out striker but was a passenger before being replaced at half-time.
Perhaps his second-minute clash of heads with Naldo had more of an effect on the Euro 2016 winner than Lokomotiv's physios anticipated at the time.
Schalke head to Augsburg in the Bundesliga on Saturday looking for a first league win in three, while Lokomotiv have a long break before they return to action in February.