After a series of Bundesliga disappointments, Schalke progressed in the Champions League after a 4-1 win on penalties against Porto. That was thanks to a star performance from young keeper Manuel Neuer.
Schalke celebrates after the penalty shoot-out
Schalke's 21-year-old goalkeeper Manuel Neuer saved two spot kicks in extra time to help his team clinch a spot in the Champions League quarterfinals.
The penalty shoot-out became necessary after Porto beat Schalke at home 1-nil, bringing the fixture to a 1-all on aggregate.
Bringing a 1-nil adavntage into the match, Schalke looked to be home free as neither team created many chances, and Porto went a man down. But the hosts' Argentinean striker Lisandro Lopez scored four minutes from time.
In the two additional fifteen-minute periods, neither team could break the deadlock -- setting up Neuer's finest moment as a professional.
Neuer stole the show
"It was a super performance from Manuel Neuer, and not only in the penalty shootout," Schalke coach Mirko Slomka told Premiere TV after the match. "He also made fantastic saves during the match."
The goalie keeper a pair of point-blank strikes from Moroccan forward Tarik Sektioui.
Head coach under fire for domestic losses
Schalke had been reeling from three consecutive defeats in the Bundesliga, placing them sixth, 12 points behind leaders Bayern Munich.
The team's domestic performance has put Slomka in the hot seat with the club's management, but he can relax after Wednesday's win, at least for the time being.
Porto, which took the title in 2004, had lost only one of their last 19 Champions League home games. They lead in the Portuguese league and have reached the domestic cup semifinals.
Neuer said he was confident that the win against high-standing Porto will bring a much needed boost to Schalke's morale.
"We've lost a bunch of games, but this win can make a real difference to us," he told Premiere. "I'm sure we'll see an immediate effect."