London: Netherlands internationals Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Ibrahim Afellay scored late goals as Schalke outclassed Arsenal to win 2-0 in the Champions League on Wednesday, lifting the team above the English side to the top of Group B. The German visitors had wasted a string of good openings by the time Huntelaar put them in front with a low drive in the 76th minute, his ninth goal of the season for club and country.
Afellay clinched victory for Schalke in the 86th, slotting home from close range after Jefferson Farfan had evaded Arsenal's defense again down the right flank. The loss ended Arsenal's perfect start to the competition and leaves manager Arsene Wenger with some worrying problems with his team being outclassed in every department. Schalke is on seven points — one ahead of Arsenal, which is still favored to progress to the knockout stage despite this setback.
Fresh from winning at German champion Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga on Saturday, 2011 semifinalist Schalke took the game to Arsenal in front of its raucous, scarf-waving support. First to almost every ball and more sprightly in possession, the only surprise was that it took so long for the visitors to open the scoring. Huub Stevens' side would have been ahead at the break had Huntelaar not wasted the only clear-cut chance of the half.
Atsuto Uchida was set free down the right and his inviting cross should have been put away by the striker, who instead turned the ball the wrong side of the near post. Wenger's usually efficient team lost possession far too easily early on and he might have feared the worst when Afellay went down under the challenge of goalkeeper Vito Mannone in the 14th. Referee Jonas Eriksson chose to book the Dutchman for diving rather than award the penalty, however.
With Gervinho isolated up front, the hosts failed to create an opportunity in the first half and they started the second period just as sluggishly, with Schalke's Benedikt Howedes slamming a shot over the bar in the 50th when all alone in the box. It was therefore no surprise that Arsenal did end up conceding. Afellay flicked the ball on at the edge of the area for Huntelaar to run onto and thrash a low finish past Mannone.
Many of the home supporters in the crowd were already on their way out of the stadium by the time Afellay applied the most simple of finishes from barely five yards out after Farfan had broken clear down the wing, away from beleaguered Arsenal left back Andre Santos. The loss came on the back of a demoralizing Premier League defeat to Norwich on Saturday, which threatens to burst the early-season optimism at Emirates Stadium.