FC Schalke 04 are through to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals for the first time after rounding off a 7-3 aggregate victory over holders FC Internazionale Milano in Gelsenkirchen.
Raúl González's 71st UEFA Champions League goal further dented any faint hopes the Nerazzurri had of mounting an unlikely comeback from their 5-2 first-leg reverse on the stroke of half-time. Thiago Motta equalised early in the second period, but Benedikt Höwedes fired in a superb winner with nine minutes remaining to leave Ralf Rangnick's side looking forward to a last-four encounter with Manchester United FC.
Sir Alex Ferguson observed proceedings from the stands as, like in the first leg, Leonardo's side made the early running. Wesley Sneijder fired the first of two early attempts on goal straight at Manuel Neuer and the message was clear: the visitors were not giving up their title without a fight.
The best football came from the hosts, though. Alexander Baumjohann was a constant threat with his thrusting runs down the right and José Manuel Jurado's trickery and vision caused problems on the opposite flank. The evergreen Raúl was dropping deep to link midfield and attack before haring forward to get on the end of things. On 16 minutes Júlio César had to be on his guard when one move found the 33-year-old popping up unmarked to head Jurado's left-wing cross goalwards.
Inter threatened intermittently, finding space particularly down the left, but Höwedes twice made crucial blocks on Samuel Eto'o. Dejan Stanković, scorer from 53 metres in the first leg, went close for the Nerazzurri but on this occasion, from half that range, Neuer was his equal. Inter's frustration was compounded when they fell behind and it was no surprise that the approach work involved Baumjohann and Jurado, the latter feeding Raúl, who rounded Júlio César with ease to score.
The visitors' reply was swift, though, and the 2,500 travelling supporters were given something to cheer when Thiago Motta bundled in from close range after Lúcio's header, following a Sneijder corner, was deflected. With four more goals required, Inter threw more men forward, Eto'o clearing the bar with a header and curling narrowly wide of the top corner.
Such adventure left the outgoing European club champions exposed at the back, where Kyriakos Papadopoulos twice headed over from set pieces. Leonardo had insisted on the eve of this match that this was not mission impossible for Inter, but they simply had too much to do: they needed every shot on goal, such as Sneijder's 75th-minute free-kick, to go in rather than fizz wide.
Instead it was their opponents who put the seal on the tie with a winning goal on the night, carved out by a wonderful piece of skill from Raúl. The former Spain striker flicked a clever through ball into the path of the onrushing Höwedes, who had already had a goal disallowed for offside, and the Schalke centre-half lashed in his shot to complete another memorable evening for the Knappen.
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