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Serie A

Holtby marks birthday with Schalke victory

Schalke birthday boy Lewis Holtby celebrated in style as his team began their Champions League campaign with 2-1 win over Olympiakos in Greece on Tuesday.

• Olympiakos 1-2 Schalke

The Germany Under-21 captain, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Tuesday, refused to swap jerseys after the match, explaining: "I wanted to keep my first UCL jersey."

Schalke took the lead when captain Benedikt Howedes headed home a corner after 41 minutes, with the goal coming after Greece international Kyriakos Papadopoulos, who received a warm welcome from the Olympiacos fans, had a header disallowed.

"We were not awestruck too much - we were denied a good Papadopoulos goal and we stuck to our task", Howedes said.

The hosts levelled the scores after 58 minutes, but Jan-Klaas Huntelaar picked up a Holtby pass and put the ball away to give Schalke the lead again only 88 seconds later.

"This team spirit is our trademark", Holtby, said. "We were not put off by the Olympiakos goal - instead, we answered with a goal straight away."

Despite Huntelaar missing a penalty, Schalke wrapped up their first-ever win in an opening Champions League match. Huntelaar saw his spot-kick rebound to safety off the inside of a post and said: "That's football.

"When I scored, the ball hit the post and then crossed the line, and when I took the penalty the ball hit the post and went out. I am glad it turned out in our favour nonetheless."

Schalke face Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga this weekend, and birthday boy Holtby said: "Drinks are on me today. If anyone wants milk with honey, he can have it - but we cannot get hammered now.

"Bayern are up next on Saturday. We have to believe we can do it and do everything to beat them."


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