Ugh. Uggggghhhhhhhh. Just when we looked so close to seeing this shaky Real Madrid team gag up their 2-0 first leg lead in the Champions League to Schalke, of all teams, up sprang that leaping salmon Cristiano Ronaldo to save the day.
Schalke dominated play from the first kick and had multiple great scoring opportunities before eventually taking the lead through Christian Fuchs in the 20th minute. Five minutes later, Ronaldo shot up to meet a Toni Kroos corner and nod home the goal you see above.
Still, Schalke kept pushing. Ronaldo's equalizer didn't change much for the visitors, who would still go through by scoring three goals as long as they kept Real from getting a second. In the 40th minute, former Madridista Klaas-Jan Huntelaar got another for the German club. One more goal in a match they were controlling and Schalke would win the tie.
Alas, right before halftime, CR7 again came to the rescue with another goal against the run of play from his head:
After Ronaldo's second, we all thought the match had been put to bed. Schalke could threaten all they wanted, but it would take a miracle for them to keep Ronaldo and his cohorts off the scoresheet at the same time. Right on cue, after the break Karim Benzema gave Real more breathing room to make it 3-2 before Schalke sub Leroy Sané came back with an equalizer of his own.
Well, a miracle is almost what we got. In the 84th minute, Huntelaar got his team another goal to make it 4-3. Up until the final kick of the match, Schalke pushed and pushed for what would have been the winner, only to ultimately fall just short.
Despite moving on to the next round, Real Madrid are looking bad. What was once probably the favorites to win every competition back during their 22 match winning streak at the end of 2014 is now a team that struggles to keep any opponent off the score sheet, and even at times has trouble scoring themselves. They still have so many world-class players—plus the galactic quality of Ronaldo—that they could easily get back to their best before it's too late. It's not looking pretty right now, though. You got off easy this time, Real, but let's see what happens in about two weeks.