Madrid - Cristiano Ronaldo became the all-time leading goalscorer in European
competitions as Real Madrid sneaked into the quarter-finals of the
Champions League 5-4 on aggregate despite losing a seven-goal thriller
4-3 to Schalke on Tuesday.
The holders looked well set for a place
in the last eight for a fifth consecutive season after cruising to a
2-0 win in Gelsenkirchen three weeks ago, but they were given an
almighty scare as Schalke twice took the lead in the first-half through
Christian Fuchs and Klass-Jan Huntelaar.
Ronaldo twice responded
with textbook headers to take his tally in European competitions to 78
and surpass former Real and Schalke legend Raul in the process.
Benzema then put the hosts in front on the night early in the
second-half, but Schalke earned a fully merited win thanks to further
strikes from Leroy Sande and Huntelaar.
Real came into the game
unbeaten in 21 Champions League games at the Bernabeu, but that record
seemed under threat from the off in a wretched performance that was only
salvaged by Ronaldo's prediatory instincts.
Despite their 2-0
deficit from the first-leg Schalke started brightly and should have been
in front when Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting side-footed wide from the
impressive Max Mayer's cut-back.
The visitors did go in front on
20 minutes when Tranquillo Barnetta's cross found its way through to
Fuchs and the Austrian's drive had too much power for Iker Casillas.
Madrid responded to that shock just five minutes later when Ronaldo rose highest to power home Toni Kroos's corner.
the chances continued to flow for Schalke as Huntelaar nearly
capitalised on a short passback by Raphael Varane and then struck the
crossbar with a spectacular volley.
The former Madrid striker did
find the net at the third time of asking in quick succession as he
pounced after Casillas could only parry Meyer's low effort.
the lead only last five minutes as right on the stroke of half-time
Ronaldo headed home his historic goal from a sumptuous Fabio Coentrao
The holders finally looked to have put their place in the
last eight beyond any doubt eight minutes after the break when Benzema
showed his composure in front of goal to leave Timon Wellenreuther on
the floor before slotting home.
Yet, Schalke refused to lie down
and were back in the game just before the hour mark when some more
atrocious defending by Madrid allowed 19-year-old substitute Sane plenty
of space to curl into the far corner.
Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti
then called on Luka Modric on his first appearance after a four-month
layoff through injury and Marcelo to restore some order from the bench.
Croatian's presence helped settle Madrid's nerves and Wellenreuther had
to be alert to tip a rising over from his compatriot Kroos over the
However, another defensive lapse allowed Huntelaar in behind
the Madrid defence once more six minutes from time and he fired a
stunning finish in off the underside of the bar.
And Casillas made
some amends for his previous errors by flying to his right to make a
desperate save from Benedikt Hoewedes to prevent Schalke pulling off one
of the biggest shocks in the history of the competition.