Kevin Kuranyi's early strike divided the sides in Gelsenkirchen as FC Schalke 04 marked their knockout-stage debut with a 1-0 victory, although FC Porto may yet make them rue their failure to convert their dominance into a substantial lead.
Kuranyi scored his third UEFA Champions League goal of the season after just four minutes, pouncing on the loose ball after Rafinha's shot had been parried. That the home team's full-back was so far advanced was a measure of their purpose but Schalke – and the goalscorer in particular – were unable to take full advantage and, as the second half wore on, Porto threatened an equaliser. Their best chance fell to Lisandro López with ten minutes left, but with the goal gaping the striker skewed Ricardo Quaresma's low cross over and Schalke will travel to Portugal on 5 March with a slender advantage.
Back from suspension, Jermaine Jones was restored to the base of Schalke's midfield and wasted little time making his presence felt. Four minutes in, he picked up possession midway inside the Porto half and split the visiting back line with a pinpoint pass through to Rafinha. The right-back hit a powerful effort that Helton could only parry as far as Kuranyi who gleefully side-footed in.
The move stemmed from a poor pass from Fucile, who endured a difficult return to his favoured left-back berth having switched flanks to cover for the injured Bosingwa at the weekend. João Paulo filled in tonight, but Fucile must have wished he had stayed on the right. Soon after the goal Rafinha twisted, turned and gained a metre close to the byline before delivering a dangerous cross that Pedro Emanuel did well to lift over three lurking royal blue shirts.
It was not the triumphant return to Gelsenkirchen, scene of their 2004 UEFA Champions League final win, that Porto had envisaged. Even when the isolated López did receive the ball, he was met by the imperious Mladen Krstajić, and Schalke continued to drive forward. Sensing a weakness, Kuranyi kept drifting on to the right wing and escaped Fucile time and again. Only once, though, did he force a save from Helton, whose goal was threatened when Ivan Rakitić fired over moments before half-time.
By then Fucile had swapped with João Paulo, the latter announcing his presence on Porto's troubled left flank with an ill-advised back-heel 25 metres from goal which almost proved costly. Nonetheless, the away team began the second half with a much better shape, getting up in numbers to support their forwards, and only Fabian Ernst's timely intervention prevented López's pass finding its way to Lucho González soon after the restart.
Schalke still looked the more likely scorers and, just before the hour, Kuranyi almost made it two but failed to get purchase on Jones's exquisite cross with the goal at his mercy. It was the sort of profligacy home coach Mirko Slomka had spoken of as being his side's downfall over recent weeks and, as the clock ticked down, they were nearly exposed again. Raul Meireles tested Manuel Neuer with a swerving long-range effort before López miscued from point-blank range and Schalke held on.