Schalke shocks Inter Milan with 5-2 win
Schalke swept to a stunning 5-2 victory over defending champion Inter Milan in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal at San Siro on Tuesday.
Dejan Stankovic gave Inter the lead after 29 seconds with an astonishing volley from around the halfway line, but Schalke leveled through Joel Matip. Diego Milito scored his first Champions League goal of the season to put Inter back in front, but Edu scored the first of his brace to bring Schalke level before halftime.
Inter nearly retook the lead soon after the break, but two goals in quick succession from Raul Gonzalez and an own goal from Andrea Ranocchia put the German side in total control.
''We started off wanting to attack and while it meant that Inter was able to create chances, we were also able to create chances ourselves,'' Schalke coach Ralf Rangnick said. ''I never thought we would concede a goal so soon, but I was pleased with the way we responded.''
Inter defender Cristian Chivu was sent off in the 62nd and with the home side's defense stretched to its limit, Edu added his second goal in the 75th minute to give Schalke a big step toward the semifinals.
''It was a great night for us as not everyone scores five goals against the defending champion,'' Raul said. ''After a difficult start my team showed its superiority.
''We wanted to get a good result and this victory helps us get a foot into the semifinals, but there's still 90 minutes left and we'll have to play them at the same level. The truth is I'd been here three times before with Madrid and never scored a goal, nor won.''
The result was all the more remarkable given that Schalke was without key players Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Christoph Metzelder, Mario Gavranovic and Peer Kluge.
Meanwhile the defensive problems that Inter has displayed since losing Walter Samuel to injury earlier in the season were eagerly seized upon by Schalke's attack. Inter has now conceded eight goals in just two games, having lost the city derby 3-0 to Milan at the weekend - when Chivu was also sent off.
''We started well, but then it all went wrong in the second half,'' Inter captain Javier Zanetti said. ''Now we have to think about the championship and get back our energy and get our heads straight. We have to go forward with our heads held high because you never know.''
The game was less than half a minute old when Inter took the lead with a candidate for the competition's goal of the season.
Esteban Cambiasso played a ball over the Schalke defense toward Milito. Manuel Neuer raced out of his area and headed the ball clear, but it fell to Stankovic near the halfway line and the Serbian showed tremendous technique to volley the ball over the stricken goalkeeper and into the net for his second Champions League goal of the season.
Schalke hit straight back though and Raul twice went close with headers.
The equalizer came in the 17th minute when Jefferson Farfan picked out the unmarked Kyriakos Papadopoulos with a corner. Julio Cesar made a desperate low block to stop his header but Matip reacted first to sweep home the loose ball from close range.
Both teams continued to press and Milito had penalty appeals waved away after he went down in the box, Cesar stopped Jose Manuel Jurado's effort with his feet and Samuel Eto'o had a goal chalked off for offside.
Inter grabbed its second in the 34th when Wesley Sneijder crossed to the unmarked Cambiasso, who headed the ball across the face of goal for his fellow Argentine Milito to volley in from close range.
Again Schalke hit back. Alexander Baumjohann played Edu through on goal, Cesar saved his first shot after it was deflected off Chivu, but the Brazilian reached the rebound first to scramble the ball into the net from a tight angle.
Just before halftime Farfan was booked for pulling back Zanetti and the Peruvian is now suspended for the second leg.
''He will be missed that is clear,'' Rangnick said. ''I wasn't happy with how he played in the first half tonight, but in the second half he was more attacking-minded. We have players who can replace him though, as we saw against St. Pauli and again tonight.''
Inter had two early chances at the start of the second half, with Milito shooting wide from Sneijder's pass and shortly after Neuer acrobatically stopping Eto'o's shot.
Farfan then set up former Real Madrid striker Raul to give Schalke the lead. The three-time Champions League winner's touch took him clear of Ranocchia to score his 70th Champions League goal of all time.
Schalke doubled its lead in the 57th shortly afterwards. Jurado raced down the right and tried to pick out Raul with a low cross, but before the Spaniard could strike Ranocchia slid in and deflected the ball past the helpless Cesar.
The night continued to get worse for Inter when Chivu was sent off for a second yellow card.
''I don't think it was anyone else's fault,'' Leonardo said. ''He committed two fouls and deserved to go. The problem though was he was frantic and tired. We needed to stay calm and recoup our energy.''
Jurado then came close to making it five for his side when his low shot rebounded back off the post.
Farfan also hit the post after charging through a demoralized Inter defense and when the ball wasn't cleared from the rebound Edu fired in his second of the night to leave Inter needing four away goals and a clean sheet in the second leg to hang onto its trophy.
''Analyzing this defeat is difficult because it started so well with Stankovic's goal after only a few seconds,'' Leonardo said. ''Schalke created seven or eight chances and scored five goals and punished us. At this crucial moment we are without a number of our best players and that has led to big losses such as this one and the one in the derby.''