Real Madrid’s mini crisis continued as they limped into the last eight of the Champions League after a rollercoaster 4-3 defeat at home to Schalke.
Los Blancos have faced some negative press for their performances of late and they were greeted by boos and white handkerchiefs at the whistle as they held off Roberto Di Matteo’s plucky side to prevail 5-4 on aggregate.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men came into the encounter boasting a 2-0 lead from the first match inGermany, but twice found themselves behind in the first period as Christian Fuchs and former Real striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar stunned the home crowd.
But Di Knappen’s hopes of pulling off one of the shocks of the recent memory were dented byCristiano Ronaldo, who came to his side’s aid with two clinical headers to take his tally for the season to 41 in all competitions – and saw him set a new record of goalscoring in European competition with 78 goals.
It was hard on Schalke whose first-half showing should have seen them ahead at the interval – and, but for the woodwork, they would have been as Huntelaar was unlucky to see a rasping 25-yard strike ping back off the frame of Iker Casillas’ goal.
Early in the second half, Karim Benzema’s 20th goal of the season gave Real more breathing space and looked to have settled the home side’s nerves.
But Schalke never gave up and after substitute Leroy Sane curled in a wonderful equaliser, Huntelaar smashed in his second of the game five minutes from time to set up a barnstorming finale – with Casillas making two superb saves.
Ultimately, Real edged through but, aside from Luka Modric’s return from long-term injury, there were few positives to take just 12 days prior to their La Liga showdown with Barcelona.