Real Madrid survive Schalke scare

Real Madrid CF 3-4 FC Schalke 04 (agg: 5-4)
Cristiano Ronaldo's record-breaking 77th and 78th goals in Europe were overshadowed by a valiant – if futile – victory.

Di Matteo proud of young team
Di Matteo proud of young team

Real Madrid hold off valiant Schalke comeback to reach a fifth straight quarter-final
Cristiano Ronaldo scores his record-breaking 77th and 78th goals in UEFA club competition
Christian Fuchs (20) and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (40) put Schalke in front twice
Karim Benzema (53) makes it 3-2; Leory Sané (57) and Huntelaar (84) set up tense finale
Quarter-final draw in Nyon on 20 March at 12.00CET

Real Madrid CF edged into the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals for the fifth year in a row despite a valiant display from FC Schalke 04, who earned a famous second-leg victory but still narrowly bowed out of the competition.

Schalke were the better side in an open first half and twice led, through Christian Fuchs and ex-Madrid forward Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, yet Madrid were level at the break, thanks mainly to Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese twice headed into the Schalke net, taking his tally in UEFA club competition to 78, surpassing the record of former Madrid ace Raúl González, and when Karim Benzema struck eight minutes into the second half, Madrid were in front. Schalke levelled through 19-year-old Leroy Sané and Huntelaar's second of the night set up a tense finale, which Madrid survived – just.

With no team having ever overturned a two-goal home defeat in the UEFA Champions League era, Schalke – 2-0 losers in Gelsenkirchen – might have begun with little hope but they showed plenty of spirit, pressing and harrying at every turn. Ten minutes in, Max Meyer broke down the left and pulled the ball back to Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting whose first-time effort drifted wide.

Meyer then broke through the Madrid defence only to pull a weak shot wide, but still Madrid failed to heed the warnings and, in the 20th minute, they were punished. Tranquillo Barnetta's low cross from the right was allowed to reach Fuchs in space at the far post, and his fierce left-foot strike was too powerful for Iker Casillas.

Madrid roused themselves and five minutes later they were level, Toni Kroos crossing for Ronaldo to nod past Timon Wellenreuther – just as he had in the first leg – and equal Raúl's European mark. Schalke, however, were undaunted and Huntelaar's thunderous attempt from the edge of the area came back off the crossbar. Seconds later, the Dutchman was there again after Casillas parried Meyer's shot; Huntelaar pounced and this time Schalke were back in the lead.

Again Madrid's reply was swift and incisive, Fábio Coentrão's deep centre being headed in by Ronaldo on the stroke of half-time, before the holders gained breathing space early in the second period. Benzema kept his head to evade two defenders and then goalkeeper Wellenreuther to slot his sixth UEFA Champions League goal of the campaign.

Now it was Schalke's turn to muster a response, and they did so in considerable style. Substitute Sané, making his competition debut, found the room to arc a fine effort across Casillas and inside the far post.

Chances continued at both ends, Wellenreuther saving from Álvaro Arbeloa and Toni Kroos, the latter also curling narrowly wide. That proved crucial with six minutes left, as Huntelaar strode clear after Luka Modrić's tackle had inadvertently caught out the Madrid defence and thumped a shot past Casillas off the underside of the crossbar.

The keeper then sprang to his right to push away another Sané attempt, yet still Schalke were not beaten. It took a Casillas block from Benedikt Höwedes in added time to finally end their challenge, as Madrid scraped through.

Christian Fuchs fires Schalke in front
Christian Fuchs fires Schalke in front©AFP/Getty Images
Schalke celebrate taking the lead at the Santiago Bernabéu
Schalke celebrate taking the lead at the Santiago Bernabéu©AFP/Getty Images
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after heading Madrid's first equaliser
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after heading Madrid's first equaliser©Getty Images
Christian Fuchs (left) and Álvaro Arbeloa contest an aerial ball
Christian Fuchs (left) and Álvaro Arbeloa contest an aerial ball©Getty Images
Ronaldo is congratulated by Fábio Coentrão after his and Madrid's first goal
Ronaldo is congratulated by Fábio Coentrão after his and Madrid's first goal©AFP/Getty Images
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar after putting Schalke back in front
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar after putting Schalke back in front©AFP/Getty Images
Cristiano Ronaldo after scoring his 78th UEFA club competition goal
Cristiano Ronaldo after scoring his 78th UEFA club competition goal©Getty Images
Karim Benzema puts Madrid 3-2 up
Karim Benzema puts Madrid 3-2 up©Getty Images
Schalke's 19-year-old substitute Leroy Sané is mobbed after making it 3-3
Schalke's 19-year-old substitute Leroy Sané is mobbed after making it 3-3©AFP/Getty Images
Huntelaar celebrates putting Schalke 4-3 up on the night
Huntelaar celebrates putting Schalke 4-3 up on the night©Getty Images