Gelsenkirchen - FC Schalke 04's endeavour wasn't enough to avoid suffering a 2-0 loss on home soil against titleholders Real Madrid CF in their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg.

The Royal Blues restored a measure of pride following last season's 6-1 loss to the Spaniards in front of their own fans, but their impassioned and resilient performance was ultimately undone by goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcelo either side of half-time.

Schalke undone by Ronaldo


Buoyed by the fantastic atmosphere inside the Veltins Arena, Roberto Di Matteo's men were not lacking self-confidence in the opening exchanges. Real dominated possession, yet, but for a long-range effort from Ronaldo that came closer to going out for a throw-in than finding the back of the net, failed to threaten their hosts. Schalke were vehemently sticking to their game plan of limiting space and absorbing pressure, but also carved out the first real chance as Klaas-Jan Huntelaar stung the palms of Iker Casillas from distance in the 25th minute.

However, just over 60 seconds later and Madrid made the breakthrough as Dani Carvajal cut inside Dennis Aogo to pick out Ronaldo, who ghosted in between Joel Matip and Benedikt Höwedes to plant a header beyond Timon Wellenreuther. The 19-year-old keeper proved his worth either side of Huntelaar being forced off injured, first denying Karim Benzema before flying to his right to palm a trademark Ronaldo free-kick clear of danger, ensuring his side went in at the break with just a one-goal deficit.

Platte shines, Marcelo strikes


The visitors came out of the changing rooms intent on raising the pace of proceedings, but with Di Matteo’s charges diligently going about their defensive duties, failed to produce the final pass that would have presented them with an opportunity to extend their lead. Schalke were stifling Real at every turn, but largely struggling to assert themselves in the final third despite substitute Felix Platte’s best efforts, as Marco Höger and Isco exchanged half-chances at either end to no avail.

As time wound down though it seemed as if Schalke sensed the chance to at least restore parity and were it not for the woodwork would have done so in the 74th minute. Atsuto Uchida’s knock down from Kevin Prince Boateng’s inch-perfect pass was met expertly by the 18-year-old Platte, who could only look on as his effort come back off the bar with Casillas stranded. Instead, it was a moment of fleet-footed brilliance from Ronaldo that allowed him to tee-up Marcelo for a thunderous strike, which leaves Schalke with a mountain to climb against the defending champions.

Line-ups:

Schalke: Wellenreuther - Höwedes, Matip, Nastasic - Uchida, Aogo - Neustädter (Kirchhoff 57') - Höger (Meyer 80'), Boateng - Choupo-Moting, Huntelaar (Platte 36')

Real: Casillas - Carvajal (Arbeloa 82'), Pepe, Varane, Marcelo - Kroos, Isco (Illarramendi 85'), Lucas Silva - Bale, Benzema (Hernandez 78'), Cristiano Ronaldo

Goals: 0-1 Ronaldo (26'), 0-2 Marcelo (79')