Real Madrid booed off as they flirt with disaster
Schalke put four goals past Real, who had to rely on Ronaldo to keep them in the Champions League
Real Madrid 3 Schalke 4 [Real win 5-4 on aggregate]. Cup holders Real Madrid reached their fifth successive Champions League quarter-final but they were booed off the Bernabeu after losing the second leg to Schalke.
The unfancied German side nearly pulled off the shock of the season in overhauling the deficit of 2-0 from their first leg encounter. The final few minutes of an extraordinary encounter saw Real under attack from Schalke knowing that one more would send the Germans through on the away goal rule.
Though the ten-time European champions hung on to reach the last eight, the defeat – Real's fifth of 2015 – is a further sign that the Spanish giants have much work to do if they're to retain the Champions League title in June.
There was nothing triumphant about coach Carlo Ancelotti's post-match press conference despite their progression from the Last 16. Instead he apologised for the unacceptable display. "I'm very sorry. We played very badly and that is bad for our image," said Ancelotti. "We're professionals, we don't make ourselves look ridiculous."
Not surprisingly, Ancelotti singled out his side's defence as an area that needs to be urgently addressed, telling reporters: "We need to look at our defence, that's where all our errors were. No team has put four past us at home." Worryingly, however, for Real fans, Ancelotti also said he was at a loss to know why this year his players have lost their "desire" and "fight" in so many matches. "It's not easy to explain what's happened," he said. "We've lost confidence."
The only Real player to live up to his reputation was Cristiano Ronaldo. He scored two of Real's goal and in doing so the World Player of the Year became the Champions League's record scorer, surpassing Lionel Messi's mark of 75 goals. Ronaldo's 76th goal – a header – on the stroke of half-time meant the sides went into the break all-square at 2-2 after Christian Fuchs and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar's goals for the visitors.
Karim Benzema then put Real ahead on 52 minutes but five minutes Leroy Sane levelled for Schalke.
When ex-Real striker Huntelaar scored his second of the night six minutes from time to make it 4-3 to the visitors, the Bernabeu faithful looked on in a mixture of disbelief and fear. One more goal would knock them out but their team withstood the final frantic few minutes to seal their place in the quarter-final.
"Our team is young but they gave everything," reflected Schalke coach Roberto Di Matteo. "We scored four goals against Real Madrid but we are not going through to the next round. We are happy, but also sad."
Ronaldo refused to talk to the press after the game, letting it be known that he has nothing to say to them until the end of the season for reasons that remain unclear, but Real goalkeeper Iker Casillas admitted his side "have hit rock bottom in a most resounding way". He added, however, that the "positive is that Friday next week we are in the draw and we will forget what has happened."