Schalke reached their first ever UEFA Champions League semi-final after a 2-1 win over Inter Milan in the second-leg of their quarter-final.Raul’s 71st Champions League goal on the stroke of half-time ended any hope the reigning European champions had of winning the tie after last week’s 5-2 drubbing at home, before he turned provider for defender Benedikt Howedes’ 81st minute winner.
Italian midfielder Thiago Motta pulled a goal back in between for the Serie A side, but they lost the tie 7-3 on aggregate as new Schalke boss Ralf Rangnick made it four wins from as many starts as manager.
Inter had the better of the first half in Gelsenkirchen on Wednesday, but could not make their dominance of possession count.
Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was rarely troubled and he answered the few challenges the Italians threw at him.
Wesley Sneijder hit an early sighter from range, which Neuer comfortably collected on his chest.
First-leg goal-scorer Dejan Stankovic also tested the German shot-stopper as Inter was forced to try and break the deadlock from distance, but his 30-yard strike was palmed away.
As Inter pushed for a goal before the break Schalke exposed them on the counter-attack and took an unlikely lead into half-time.
Spanish midfielder Jurado broke quickly from midfield and his well-weighted pass released Raul, who rounded Inter goal-keeper Julio Cesar and tapped into an open net.
The defending of Leonardo’s men was again questionable for the goal as the returning Lucio lost track of Raul’s run and left the centre of defence exposed.
But Inter showed signs of life when they pulled one back four minutes into the second half through midfielder Motta.
A corner from Sneijder was headed goal-ward by a rising Lucio, before Motta reacted quickest to poke the equaliser into the roof of the net.
The hosts thought they had regained the lead on the hour mark, but Howedes had his scrambled finish from a corner ruled out for offside.
Sneijder forced Neuer to scramble across his goal-line 15 minutes from time after striking a whipping free-kick inches wide of his right post.
But the Germans guaranteed they would win the home leg when Raul scooped a delightful pass through for Howedes to break the Inter offside trap and smash a low shot past Cesar.
Schalke will now meet Manchester United in the semi-final, with the first leg to be played on April 26 or 27.