Real Madrid come within a whisper of shock Champions League exit
Xinhua, March 11, 2015 Adjust font size:
Real Madrid qualified for the quarter-finals of the Champions League on 5-4 on aggregate against Schalke 04 onTuesday night, but coach Carlo Ancelotti can hardly have been pleased with his side's performance as they were beaten 4-3 on the night by the German side.
The first half saw Real Madrid flirt seriously with danger despite the cushion of their 2-0 win from the first leg. Despite the presence of Sami Khedira to give more muscle to the Madrid midfield, Schalke took the game by the scruff of the neck and looked the brighter side against a rival that looked nervous and off the pace.
It was no surprise then when Cristian Fuchs put the German side ahead as he controlled a ball from the right and fired past Iker Casillas.
The home fans were nervous but Ronaldo headed Real Madrid level on the night after great movement which saw him lose his marker following a corner kick.
The striker 'celebrated' his goal by appearing to ask his companions to raise their game, but if that was his intention it didn't work as Schalke had three more chances to score.
First of all a lazy backpass from Rafael Varene almost allowed former Madrid striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar to send the ball home only for his effort to slide just wide.
Then Huntelaar saw a spectacular volley rattle the woodwork, before it was third time lucky in the 40th minute as he was on hand to smash home from close range after Casillas failed to hold Max Mayer's shot.
That goal left Schalke just one goal off what would have been an unlikely qualification, but Ronaldo was on and to head home his second of the night on the stroke of halftime from a cross from the otherwise disappointing Fabio Coentrao.
Karim Benzema looked to have assured qualification with a nicely taken goal seven minutes after the break to put Madrid 3-2 up on the night, but Schalke substitute Luis Sane equalized just seven minutes later with a goal which prompted Ancelotti into a double change bringing Marcelo and Luka Modric, who returned to action after three and a half months out with a knee injury, for Coentrao and Khedira.
It was end to end football now, but Madrid appeared to be safe until Huntelaar scored his second of the night in the 84th minute to put Schalke 3-4 ahead, meaning another goal would knock Madrid out.
The home fans had their hearts in their mouths when Schalke forced a last minute corner, but the chance came to nothing, although that didn't save the home fans from a chorus of boos and whistles at the final whistle. Endi