Schalke have one man in particular to thank for putting them in pole position for progression to the Champions League quarter-finals. That man, of course, is Raul.
One of the best left-footed players in recent history notched his 70th European goal last night. A feat that lifted him level with Pippo Inzaghi and above der Bomber Gerd Müller.
After Klaas-Jan Huntelaar had missed a glorious chance for die Knappen, Roberto Soldado gave Valencia the lead, cutely volleying home from the near post from Jeremy Mathieu’s cross. It was a goal which gave the home side confidence, but also led to increasing negligence at the back, allowing Felix Magath’s side an avenue through which to claw themselves back into the tie.
And it was the scourge of Valencia (13 goals in 25 games against the Valencians, including one in the 2000 CL final) who so predictably provided Schalke’s redemption. The frontman latched onto the left-wing cross of another Spaniard, Jose Manuel Jurado, with the most sumptuous first touch to take it away from the defender Navarro and fire low to Guaita’s left. It prompted the former Real Madrid icon to sprint towards the Royal Blue following and point to his name. No-one will ever forget it, Raul, don’t worry.
A fantastic result for the Gelsenkirchen based side was slightly tempered by the late dismissal of Lukas Schmitz, who quite frankly lost his head and deserved to go for a second bookable offence.