Leonardo admits uphill battle

Inter boss Leonardo has conceded a comeback against Schalke in the Champions League quarter-final could be beyond their reach.Despite a positive start at the San Siro after Dejan Stankovic’s long-range strike, the Italians saw their lead and hopes of retaining the title slip away from them courtesy of a three-goal second-half performance by the Bundesliga club, who go into the return leg 5-2 up.

“Tonight’s game started in the best possible fashion and it would have been difficult to predict what was to come,” the Brazilian said after the game.

“Early in the second half we missed a couple of chances and immediately Schalke scored their third.”

The Inter boss, who saw also the Nerazzurri concede ground in the Serie A title race following the loss in the Milan derby on Saturday, rued Schalke’s ruthless conversion rate on Tuesday.

He admitted his side had a mountainous task to overcome in the return leg at Gelsenkirchen next Wednesday.

“They had six or seven shots and scored five goals, so in that we can feel hard done by,” he said.

“After their third and fourth goals responding became difficult, especially with ten men, and in the end we lacked balance, as we did on Saturday against Milan.”

“It’s difficult to think about mounting a recovery in the second leg, but we’ll try to capture the best possible result.”

“Unfortunately, the crucial period of the season has come at the wrong time for us. It took a lot of effort to climb the league standings and Inter always play to win. It’s the only way we know.”

Despite the emphatic away victory, Schalke boss Ralf Rangnick refused to be taken away by the result, insisting the contest was not over – yet.

“We are not in the semi-finals just yet, but we have a pretty big chance now,” he said. “In the end, we could have scored even more.”

“It is surely the best game of my career. Had someone told us before the match that we would beat Inter by three goals, we would have had him (or her) declared crazy.”