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.
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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.
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.
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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.
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′)