Gelsenkirchen, Germany – Raul scored the match-winner in the 1 win over Steaua Bucharest on Thursday.
Schalke's Kiriakos Papadopoulos and Steaua's Raul Rusescu traded goals in the first half, but Raul separated the clubs and sealed a berth in the last 32 of the Europa League for last season's Champions League semifinalist.
Raul converted from just 6 yards out off a deflected shot from teammate Klaas- Jan Huntelaar, as he poked the ball into the left side of the net. The Spanish striker scored his 74th goal in European events, increasing his own record.
Steaua Bucharest remained alive in the group entering the final matchday, as a 2-1 win by AEK Larnaca, its first of the event, over Maccabi Haifa helped the Cyrpus club remain alive in Group J.
Israel's Maccabi Haifa is still in the best shape in second on six points, but needs a win over Schalke in its final group game to secure advancement. Steaua hosts AEK Larnaca in Romania, with both sides looking for a win and help.
In Group D, Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Valeri Bojinov scored as Sporting Lisbon sealed first place with a 2-0 win over Zurich and Lazio and Vaslui tied 1-1 to leave both clubs level on six points behind the leader.
Vaslui currently sits second on a tiebreaker and can secure a knockout spot on the final day of group play Dec. 14 with a win at Zurich. Lazio needs at least a draw at home against Sporting in its final match to have a chance.
In Group E, Kenwyne Jones scored in the 80th minute as Stoke City earned a 1-1 draw against Dynamo Kyiv in England to secure a knockout berth, and Ricardo Quaresma scored twice as Besiktas edged Maccabi Tel Aviv 3-2 to stay second.
Stoke can clinch the group with a win against Dynamo Kyiv on the final day and Besiktas will secure advancement with even a tie against Maccabi Tel Aviv.
In Group F, Markel Susaeta scored the winning goal as Athletic Bilbao clinched first place with a 2-1 win over Slovan Bratislava, and Red Bull Salzburg edged PSG 2-0 to take over second place.
Red Bull Salzburg can clinch advancement with a win over Slovan Bratislava in its final match, while PSG needs at least a draw against Bilbao to have a shot to advance.
In Group K, Marc Janko scored in the 89th minute as Dutch side Twente remained unbeaten atop the group with a 1-0 win over Fulham to clinch first and Patryk Malecki bagged the winner as Wisla Krakow edged Odense 2-1 to remain alive.
Fulham sits second with seven points and the English squad hosts Danish side Odense, which can no longer get to the knockout stage, in its last game. Wisla needs a win over Twente in Poland and help.
In Group L, Dmitri Sychev's penalty was the winner as Loko Moscow secured its knockout berth with a 3-1 win over Sturm Graz, and Guillaume Gillet scored two goals as Anderlecht remained perfect with a 2-1 win over winless AEK Athens.
Anderlecht leads the group with 15 points, followed by Loko with 12. Loko must win the final match between the clubs on the road in Belgium by at least two goals for the Russian side to win the group.