The Royal Blues put themselves in good position to qualify for the next round of the Champions League with a 1-0 win over Porto. But the game also revealed some weaknesses in Schalke's squad.
Schalke's Kuranyi scored the early match-winner
The German side entered uncharted waters on Tuesday, Feb.19, playing for the first time ever in the knock-out stage of the Champions League. And despite some uneasy passages, they sailed through with a 1-0 win over former title holders Porto.
The 54,000 fans in the sold-out Schalke Arena were visibly and audibly excited about the match, and the level of support seemed to intimidate the visitors, who fell behind after only four minutes.
Porto's Brazilian keeper Helton could only parry a crisply taken shot by Schalke defender Rafinha into the middle, and striker Kevin Kuranyi was on hand to swipe the ball into the back of the net.
Gerald Asamoah was ineffective for Schalke
Schalke had the better of the first but failed to convert any of their chances and extend their lead.
The hosts came out flat after the break -- with Porto having more and more of the ball as the second half progressed. In particular, Schalke had trouble linking the midfield and the attack, a recurring problem this season.
Their young keeper Manuel Neuer also had a couple of wobbly moments that might have proved costly against a more offensively proficient foe.
But Porto forward Lisandro Lopez squandered the visitors' best chance for an equalizer, somehow deflecting a cross in the 80th minute away from a tantalizingly open goal.
Schalke held on for a tight -- and historic -- win and are now in the driver's seat for the return match in Porto on March 5.
Inter were left hanging their heads at Anfield
In the night's other action, Liverpool rebounded from their disastrous results in the FA Cup and the Premiership, to book a 2-0 home win over Serie A leaders Inter Milan.
Marco Materazzi -- the world's most famous head-butt recipient -- did the hosts a favor by getting sent off in the 30th minute.
But it took 55 minutes before striker Dirk Kuyt could exploit the man advantage and put Liverpool in front. Steven Gerrard added a second goal just before time to complete scoring at Anfield.
Meanwhile, Chelsea were playing out a goalless draw away to Greek side Olympiakos, in a match that saw Germany captain Michael Ballack return to Champions League action.
AS Rome came from behind to beat Spanish league leader Real Madrid 2-1. Raul scored early for the visitors, but goals from David Pizarro and Alessandro Mancini turned the tide for the Italians.