Inter 2 – 5 Schalke – Champs to chumps as Schalke crush Inter
Schalke took a massive step towards a first Champions League semi-final appearance with three second-half goals against Inter at the San Siro. A 70th European goal from Raul Gonzalez, an Andrea Ranocchia own goal and a second strike from Goncalves Edu helped the Bundesliga side to a 5-2 victory after the teams had shared four goals in the first half.
Inter got off to the perfect start and needed just 27 seconds before Dejan Stankovic volleyed them in front. Manuel Neuer had raced off his line to clear a long ball with his head but the ball flew straight to the Serbian midfielder in the centre circle and he produced a fantastic hit to drive the ball into the gaping goal.
In the previous round against Bayern Munich, Inter were shown to lack the defensive strength that was so helpful in last year’s Champions League and were breached rather too easily by their visitors. Veteran Raul should probably have done better with an early header before Joel Matip fired Schalke level. Kyriakos Papadopoulos forced Julio Cesar to save well from a corner and in the scramble that followed, the ball dropped for Matip to stroke home.
Both teams created plenty of chances throughout the game and a third goal was only a matter of time. Eventually, an excellent team move put the Italians back in front. Wesley Sneijder picked out Esteban Cambiasso with a pinpoint ball and he cushioned a header into the path of the unmarked Diego Milito to volley past Neuer. However Inter once again failed to hold on to their lead and seven minutes later, Edu got his first goal of the game. An initial drive was saved but not cleared and the Brazilian steered the rebound home from an acute angle.
The teams went in at the break level and the attacking intent continued in the second half. Schalke were seemingly unhappy with just two away goals and Inter wanted to make the most of their home advantage. It was the hosts that started the second period the better and Sneijder showed signs he was really starting to pull the strings; that was until Inter had the wind knocked out of them by 33-year-old Raul. The Spaniard was fed through by Jefferson Farfan and shrugged off Ranocchia to finish neatly from close range.
Five minutes later Ranocchia’s night got much worse when he tried to stop Jose Manuel Jurado's low cross from reaching Edu and instead turned the ball into his own net. The match was settled as a contest just after the hour when a rash challenge from Cristian Chivu was punished with a straight red card. With 15 minutes left, Edu completed the haul for Schalke with a fine left-shot drive. The Inter defence once again failed to clear their lines and Edu drilled the ball past Cesar.
Inter’s chances of retaining the Champions League now look all but over while Schalke fans must already be dreaming of facing either Chelsea or Manchester United in the final four of the competition.