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Breitenreiter pleased with Schalke character

Schalke coach Andre Breitenreiter lauded his team for turning their form around and reaching the Europa League knockout stage.

A late Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting goal saw the Bundesliga side to a 1-0 win over APOEL on Thursday as they sealed progression from Group K.

The victory also ended a seven-game winless run for Schalke, who top the group by two points from Sparta Prague.

Breitenreiter praised his side for returning to winning ways ahead of Sunday's trip to Bayer Leverkusen.

"The most important thing is that we didn't become disheartened after a fairly poor run of form. That was crucial," he said, via the club's website.

"We forced the win in the end, but we're aware that we need to work on our chance conversion."

Dennis Aogo missed a late penalty for Schalke, minutes after Choupo-Moting had given them the lead.

Breitenreiter said his team had made things hard for themselves with their missed chances.

"We're relieved to have won the game and to already be qualified for the knockout stage. That was the aim before the game," he said.

"We began strongly and created a lot of chances, but unfortunately we weren't able to put any of them away.

"You need to score quickly against an opposition who stood as deep as they did. The chances were there for us, especially from set-pieces, but we wasted our best opportunities.

"If we'd taken the lead early on, it would have been a very different game."