Real Madrid 3-4 (5-4) Schalke: Reigning champs survive huge scare to make quarterfinals

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Real Madrid lost 4-3 to Schalke at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday, as the reigning European champions stumbled into the last eight of the UEFA Champions League after winning 5-4 on aggregate.

In what was supposed to be a routine home win, Schalke twice took the lead in the first half through Christian Fuchs and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar but Cristiano Ronaldo equalized twice with his head to make it 2-2 at the break as a below-par Real struggled to contain the Bundesliga outfit.

After the interval Karim Benzema put Real 3-2 up, but Schalke scored through youngster Leroy Sane to make it 3-3 and Huntelaar added another late on to set up a thrilling finish. Real held on, but Schalke gave them an almighty scare as the pressure continues to mount on Carlo Ancelotti and Los Blancos.

[ RELATED: Ancelotti feeling pressure at Real ]

After good work by Max Meyer on the left Cameroon international Eric Choupo-Moting side-footed a decent effort wide inside the first 10 minutes as Schalke started brightly at the Bernabeu.

Teenage winger Meyer then ran at Real’s defense but scuffed a shot wide as the hosts continued to slumber in the early stages. Schalke deservedly took the lead in the 20th minute, as Austrian international Fuchs slammed home at the back post but his strike should have been stopped by Iker Casillas. 1-0 to the Bundesliga outfit as whistles started to surface from the home fans.

However Schalke’s lead was short-lived, as Ronaldo headed home Toni Kroos’ corner in the 25th minute, as the Portuguese international glanced an effort into the net for his 77th goal in European competitions. 1-1.

source: Getty Images
Real were given an almighty scare by Schalke at the Bernabeu.

Real were buoyed by that goal and Schalke lost their early impetus, but just before the break Raphael Varane’s slack back pass put Casillas in trouble and former Real forward Huntelaar almost capitalized. Following that Huntelaar smashes the crossbar from distance and then in the 40th minute he slammed home after Casillas spilled Meyer’s shot. 2-1 to Schalke and it was no more than they deserved. However right on half time, that man Ronaldo headed up Fabio Coentrao’s perfect cross at the back post to score his and Real’s second, as the sides were level at 2-2 at the interval.

[ RELATED: Benzema, Bale, Ronaldo under pressure ]

In the second half Schalke continued to press but Real Madrid took the lead for the first time in the game in the 52nd minute as Benzema picked up a loose ball and ran past three players and the goalkeeper before slotting home. 3-2 to Real as their passage to the quarterfinals was all but secured. Schalke, to their credit, did not give up and Sane curled in a wonderful goal, his first in the UCL, to make it 3-3 in the 57th minute as Schalke needed two more goals in the final 30 minutes to advance.

Tranquillo Barnetta drilled an effort into the box which flashed across goal and Meyer dragged another shot wide, as Schalke pinned Real back late on. Huntelaar made it 4-3 with five minutes to go as he smashed home after Sane and Luka Modric got in a tangle. With Schalke needing just one more goal, Sane curled a great shot on target which Casillas palmed away and then Howedes volleyed on goal late on but Casillas saved with Real holding on to make their fifth-straight UCL quarterfinals. Just.

LINEUPS

Real Madrid: Casillas, Arbeloa (Nacho, 83′), Varane, Pepe, Coentrao (Marcelo, 58′), Kroos, Khedira (Modric, 58′), Isco, Bale, Ronaldo, Benzema.

Goals: Ronaldo (25′, 44′), Benzema (52′)

Schalke: Wellenreuther; Howedes, Fuchs, Nastasic, Matip; Meyer, Hoger (Goretzka, 57′), Barnetta (Uchida, 81′), Neustadter; Choupo-Moting (Sane, 29′), Huntelaar

Goals: Fuchs (20′), Hunetlaar (40′, 84′), Sane (57′)

Red-hot Rebić scores again as AC Milan tops Torino

AC Milan
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MILAN (AP) Ante Rebić kept up his scoring form to lead AC Milan to a 1-0 win over struggling Torino in Serie A on Monday.

The Croatia international beat his marker to redirect a cross from the center of the area midway through the first half at the San Siro.

The score raised Rebić’s tally to six goals and an assist in eight matches since he earned his starting spot – a move that coincided with Zlatan Ibrahimović’s return to the Rossoneri.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Bouncing back from a derby loss, Milan moved up to eighth and just beyond the Europa League places. The seven-time European champion is hoping to return to continental competition after voluntary withdrawing from this season’s Europa League to pay for UEFA financial fair play breaches.

Torino, meanwhile, lost its fifth straight, with new coach Moreno Longo still unable to turn things around in his second match in charge.

Ibrahimović narrowly missed a curling shot shortly after the break.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Simeone: Liverpool intensity “makes me admire it as a rival”

UEFA Champions League
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The UEFA Champions League returns at long last on Tuesday, and two of the greatest managers in the game will match wits for the first time.

No we’re not talking about Lucien Favre and Thomas Tuchel, the meeting of the minds in Tuesday’s other kickoff between Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain in Germany.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp will go head-to-head with Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone in Spain, and the fiery German thinks it will be “absolutely interesting.”

From The Liverpool Echo:

“People say I emotional on the sideline,” Klopp said. “I am only on level 4, Diego is level 12. Really I am the kindergarten cop against him. He is so impressive after all these years, after so many years at the club – eight years. That is really long and having still this emotional level, still, wow. So impressive. I say, his teams are always organized world class.”

The admiration is mutual.

Simeone expects a huge challenge from a Liverpool team he regards on a historic plane.

“We are facing a magnificent team, really well-trained by a coach who is different and has different alternatives in his team,” he said, via The Independent. “We have always spoken about great teams throughout time and I have no doubt this Liverpool is going to go down in history as a great team because it is different to teams that we have admired. This team is much more intense, more adaptable, and it makes me admire it as a rival.”

The bettors say Liverpool is the heavy favorite in the first leg despite the match’s location at the Wanda Metropolitano. With football geniuses like Klopp and Simeone, however, either could have a plan to throw the other for a loop.

CONCACAF Champions League preview: Five MLS sides eye history

CONCACAF Champions League preview
Photo by Alfredo Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images
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Once the Premier League and La Liga had taken their final bows of the day on Saturday, there felt was a particular absence, one soon-to-be filled by domestic soccer.

Yes, MLS is coming soon, and the CONCACAF Champions League is even closer.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Five MLS sides begin their Round of 16 ties over the next three evenings, some with easier paths than others to elusive CCL glory.

The competition may not have burned itself onto the mainstream, lagging behind continental competitions in Europe and South America, but those who’ve embraced it (hint: this guy) love the thing.

For all the progress Major League Soccer has made in its quarter-century, it’s yet to find much success in dealing with Liga MX powers in the fight to qualify for the Club World Cup.

MLS sides have not won the competition since it was rebranded the CCL. Only three MLS sides have made the CCL final this decade, with Real Salt Lake (2011), Montreal Impact (2015), and Toronto FC (2017) all coming up short at the last step.

The CCL provides everything you love and hate about World Cup qualifying, and those dicey pitches with sometimes worse lighting mean the favorites aren’t guaranteed much.

The top half of the bracket sees three MLS teams — Montreal, Seattle, and NYCFC — and just one Liga MX side, while the bottom half gives us a Liga MX v. MLS match-up straight away.

That’s Leon v. LAFC, and it begins Tuesday night in Mexico. That tie carries the added intrigue of MLS superstar Carlos Vela bringing his act back to his home country for the first time… ever.

Bracket

Saprissa (Costa Rica) v. Montreal — 8 p.m. ET Weds.
Olimpia (Honduras) v. Seattle — 10 p.m. ET Thurs.

San Carlos (Costa Rica) v. NYCFC — 8 p.m. ET Thurs.
Alianza (El Salvador) v. UANL Tigres — 8 p.m. ET Weds.

Leon v. LAFC — 10 p.m. ET Tues.
Portmore United (Jamaica) v. Cruz Azul — 8 p.m. ET Tues.

Comunicaciones (Guatemala) v. Club America — 10 p.m. ET Weds.
Montagua (Honduras) v. Atlanta United — 10 p.m. ET Tues.

The 2 Robbies podcast: VAR carnage at Stamford Bridge

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle dissect a crazy game at Stamford Bridge that saw Chelsea on the wrong side of several VAR decisions (00:45).

The gents also recap the big moments from the weekend; Liverpool beat Norwich (18:30), Son’s late winner against Aston Villa (24:45) and Arteta‘s attackers thrash Newcastle United (30:15).

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

To listen to more lively conversations and passionate debate from Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe, subscribe to The 2 Robbies Podcast on Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

And you can follow them on Twitter @The2RobbiesNBC here.

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]