Highlights: Real Madrid 3-4 Schalke; Ronaldo breaks European record as Madrid qualify
In an eventful Champions League Round of 16 match, Real Madrid held a spirited Schalke side to 3-4 at home to confirm qualification to the quarter-final of the tournament with an aggregate score of 5-4. Cristiano Ronaldo, who was tied on 76 European goals with Lionel Messi and Raul, scored twice for the Champions League holders to leap forward of the duo with 78 goals.
It was a goal-fest at the Santiago Bernabeu as Real Madrid’s 2-0 win at the Veltins-Arena proved crucial as despite losing at home to the German outfit, the defending champions qualified for the quarter-final.
The German side took the lead through Christian Fuchs in the 20th minute. Iker Casillas should have done better as he was beaten on his near post and even got a hand to Fuchs’ shot. Ronaldo, however, made sure that Schalke’s joy was short-lived as he headed in the equalizer and his record-breaking 77th European goal from a corner.
The German side were unperturbed by Ronaldo’s goal as they kept their attack going and were duly rewarded late in the half when Klaas-Jan Huntelaar put them back in the lead after Casillas had spilled another shot. But, just as he did before, Ronaldo headed the home side level again in the 45th minute to ensure Madrid go into the break level in the match and leading by 2 goals in the tie.
After a much-needed break, both the teams came out strongly with the away side looking to take the lead for the third time, but Karim Benzema had other ideas as he gave Los Blancos the lead in the 53rd minute with a calm, composed finish. 19-year-old Leroy Sane, however, levelled the score with a brilliant strike from the edge of the box to give the away fans a glimmer of hope with a little over half an hour to go in the match.
After a lull in the goal-scoring, Huntelaar dented Madrid’s hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals with a powerful shot, that went in off the crossbar. Schalke now needed 1 more goal to break Madrid hearts and earn a deserved win and qualification to the next round. However, the final 6 minutes plus stoppage time failed to bring any more goals as Real Madrid hung on to knock Schalke out of the Champions League in dramatic fashion.