Stephen Appiah scored a late equaliser as Fenerbahçe SK earned a thrilling 3-3 draw with FC Schalke 04 in Istanbul in a pulsating UEFA Champions League Group E encounter.
Schalke midfielder Lincoln scored twice around the hour mark to cancel out Fábio Luciano's early goal and set up a grandstand finish. Another Brazilian, Márcio Nobre, made it 2-2 on 73 minutes but within minutes the German side were back in front when second-half substitute Kevin Kuranyi capitalised on a glaring error from goalkeeper Volkan Demirel to slot in. That looked to have earned the points for the visitors but there was still time for Appiah to earn a share of the spoils with a superb lob on 79 minutes.
Fenerbahçe came into the match on the back of a fine run, and kept faith with the offensive three-pronged attack which has been responsible for much of their success, with Alex playing just behind Nicolas Anelka and Nobre. Schalke coach Ralf Rangnick opted for more caution, however, with Turkish international Hamit Altıntop playing off the shoulder of Ebbe Sand, who replaced Kuranyi.
It was the Danish striker who worked the first opening of the night within the first 60 seconds, his glancing header testing Volkan. Heavy rain had made conditions awkward but it was Schalke who adapted best, and their pressure should have told on eleven minutes when a loose ball found its way to Søren Larsen but unmarked, he contrived to shoot wide.
He was soon made to pay, as within three minutes Schalke were behind. Alex curled a long free-kick into the box to find compatriot Fábio, whose delicate glance gave Frank Rost no chance. The visitors responded immediately, putting the home team on the back foot with a succession of corners. Christian Poulsen forced a snap save from Volkan with a near-post header from one such set-piece in the 20th minute, before Rafinha jinked his way into the Fenerbahçe box only to fire wide.
In their desperation to find an equaliser, the Bundesliga side were leaving gaps at the back for Fenerbahçe to exploit on the break. The artful Alex drove narrowly over in the 35th minute and then put Nobre through with only Rost to beat but the Schalke keeper managed to smother the ball. Rangnick brought Kuranyi on for Sand at the interval, but it was the hosts who had the first opportunity of the second period, Marco Aurélio hitting a powerful effort just wide.
The visitors were showing more composure in midfield and beginning to dominate before getting the equaliser they had threatened, when just before the hour Lincoln deftly trapped a loose ball in the box before unleashing a left-footed strike beyond Volkan. Within three minutes, Schalke were ahead as Larsen placed a neat pass into the path of the onrushing Lincoln who slotted low and hard to Volkan's left.
It proved another twist in an invigorating encounter, and there were to be more turns before the final whistle. Boosted by the arrival of Tuncay Şanlı on the left wing, the home team restored parity thanks to Nobre's looping header, but Kuranyi put Schalke ahead again three minutes later as Volkan missed his kick to leave the striker with an open goal. Appiah replied two minutes later, though, to salvage a point, although Fenerbahçe finished with ten men after Alex was dismissed for a second bookable offence three minutes from time.