Fri, Feb 20, 2015 - Page 8 News List

Ronaldo strikes as Real down Schalke

RECORD:Real Madrid, who were eliminated from the Copa del Rey and crushed by neighbors Atletico this month, notched their 10th straight Champions League win

Reuters, GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany

Real Madrid’s Marcelo, second left, scores against Schalke 04 in their UEFA Champions League round-of-16 first leg in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on Wednesday.

Photo: EPA

Cristiano Ronaldo ended a three-game goal drought as holders Real Madrid won 2-0 at Schalke 04 on Wednesday to take a big step toward the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals and equal the competition record with a 10th straight win.

The World Player of the Year headed in after 26 minutes for his 73rd Champions League goal with Real’s first chance. He then set up Marcelo to make it seven wins for the Spanish side in seven Champions League games this season and 10 in a row.

Real’s victory was nowhere near as emphatic as last season’s 6-1 romp at Schalke at the same stage of the competition, but it was a much-needed confidence boost for Carlo Ancelotti’s team after a lackluster start to the year in Spain.

“Anything can happen in the Champions League. We are humble and we know that to get through we have to work hard like we did today,” Marcelo told Spanish television. “We have a two-goal advantage, but the tie is not over.”

“Cristiano is not obsessed with scoring. Goals come when the team works together,” he said of his teammate.

Looking to become the first team to retain the Champions League title, Real, eliminated from the Copa del Rey this month and crushed 4-0 by Atletico Madrid in La Liga, host Schalke in the second leg of the tie on March 10.

The German side fielded five defenders and were on the back foot from the start, but coach Robert di Matteo’s disciplined 5-3-2 system proved effective.

Schalke gradually grew in confidence, creating good chances for Dennis Aogo and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, but Ronaldo put Real ahead, ending his mini lean spell with a glancing header from Daniel Carvajal’s cross to take his competition tally to 73, two short of the record held by Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.

Schalke goalkeeper Timon Wellenreuther, making his competition debut, did well to deny Karim Benzema and Ronaldo, parrying a curling free-kick in the 34th minute.

Schalke’s game plan collapsed when Huntelaar, back in action despite serving a suspension in the Bundesliga for a red card, limped off with a leg injury.

Real were almost punished by 19-year-old Felix Platte, who replaced Huntelaar and struck a shot against the crossbar 15 minutes from time.

“The quality made the difference,” Di Matteo said. “They have superb players and that is why they are the titleholders. They had one chance and scored two goals.”

Brazilian Marcelo ended any lingering German hopes with a powerful shot 11 minutes from the end after good work from Ronaldo to keep Real firmly on course for a record-extending 11th triumph in Europe’s premier club competition.

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