Two late goals have handed Manchester City a 3-2 win over Schalke in the Champions League Round of 16. But Schalke can hold their heads high after a battling display saw them come within minutes of a shock victory.
Schalke 2-3 Manchester City
(Bentaleb pen. 38', pen. 44' - Aguero 19', Sané 85', Sterling 90')
No one gave Schalke a chance. Prematch talk was all about how deep the team would sit, how they'd soak up pressure, surrender possession and limit the damage. Yet a courageous display, brimming with commitment in defense and ingenuity in attack, saw Schalke come within minutes of a shock victory against their more illustrious opponents.
In the end, they were brought back down to earth by their former player Leroy Sané, who leaped off the bench to score an outstanding free kick and help hand City a last-gasp win.
But Schalke can stand proud, especially after falling behind early thanks to a calamitous error from their captain.
Goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann, under pressure, handed teammate Salif Sane a hospital pass and seconds later it was 1-0. David Silva nabbed possession and squared to Sergio Aguero for an easy tap-in.
With just 18 minutes on the clock, it looked like City would run riot, but Schalke responded by raising their game a notch.
Mark Uth pressed City's defence where possible, ably supported by Hamza Mendyl and Weston McKennie. When the latter lost the ball on shortly after the half-hour mark, he tracked back and regained possession from Kevin de Bruyne. The ball found its way to Daniel Caligiuri, whose fierce shot hit the arm of Nicolas Otamendi.
Exactly four frustrating minutes later, referee Carlos del Cerro Grande and his VAR ruled it was a penalty. Nabil Bentaleb stepped up to coolly bring Schalke back to parity.
City under pressure
Schalke weren’t content, however, and stood firm in the face of City’s slick passing and movement. They tried to get on the break when they could and soon had another set piece after David Silva felled Suat Serdar.
Caligiuri swung a dangerous ball into the box, Fernandinho, a makeshift center back for this match, pulled back Salif Sane’s hips, and del Cerro Grande had no choice but to award another penalty.
Bentaleb stepped up again, and his sweetly hit shot gave Ederson little chance. It was Bentaleb's 14th successful spot kick in 14 attempts - and Schalke were ahead.
The second half continued in the same vein as the first, with Schalke putting in a dogged performance in defiance to City's star power. And when Otamendi was sent from the field for a second yellow card after 68 minutes, it appeared as though they would hold on for a memorable victory.
However, the dream was not to last. And it was a former beloved player that would bring them back down to earth.
Leroy Sane, who left the club as a fresh-faced 20-year-old three years ago, came off the bench and slotted home his 85th-minute free-kick with aplomb.
And then came the killer blow in injury-time. Bastian Oczipka went to ground too easily and Raheem Sterling took advantage to slot home from the angle. It was game over, and heartbreak for Schalke.
A morale-boosting victory snapped at the death will be a bitter pill to swallow for the hosts, despite the brave performance. City’s victory, one that includes three away goals, should be enough to see them secure passage into the Champions League quarterfinals.
As it happened:
What an incredible game! Schalke led at the half thanks to two penalties, one from a lengthy VAR decision. City with their backs to the wall, had a man sent off but thanks to an incredible goal from their former player and a late strike by Sterling changed the score completely. Wow! Will need time to recover from that.
90+4' Long balls forward. Sane the target, but he can't get a head to it. Time for handbags as Schalke's players show their frustration. Ederson and a Schalke player (Nastasic I think) booked.
90+1' Not sure it was possible to be shocked again in this game, but there it is. Some seats already empty. Four more minutes to come. Remember, City did all this with 10 men as well.
90' GOAL! Man City (Sterling) Just incredible. Ederson plays an incredible pass out from the back to put Sterling in with a chance. He wins the physical battle with Schalke's defender (Oczipka I think), steals in and beats Fährmann with a low shot into the far corner. And just like that, Schalke's great moment is undone.
88' Well, there's not much you can say about that. It was just gorgeous. Both teams make subs. Time running down. Schalke shocked, City suddenly sitting comfortably with two away goals. Worth noting, no celebration from Sané.
85' GOAL! Man City (Sané) And Sané smashes it, Ronaldo style, into the top corner. Wow. Incredible. This is why we watch.
84' Sané has a chance - of course he does. A free kick, centrally placed, around 30 yards out. Six minutes left. Sané in his home stadium...
82' Tedesco is calling for his side to push up, to open up the space. His team responds, somehow finding the energy. There's space to push forward, but Skrzybski's shot is blocked. Surely Schalke can't find a third, can they?
77' Schalke sitting deep, forcing City to find solutions. Tedesco keen to make sure of the win, rather than push for the third (which must be tempting given City are down to 10). McKennie makes way, nursuing a knock - Skrzybski comes on. More fresh legs. For City, Aguero makes way for Sané (who gets applause from the home fans).
74' It is de Bruyne, but it's blocked. Corner. Fährmann punches clear. Schalke are 15 minutes away. Sané is coming on.
73' Schalke are winning the battles now. Sterling is pushed off the ball. De Bruyne can't find a way through. Problem here though. Bernardo Silva gets through, Sane drags him down and gets booked. City have a free kick right on the edge of the box. Gündogan and de Bruyne over it...
69' RED CARD! Otamendi sees a second yellow for a tackle on Burgstaller. It's clumsy from the defender, but smart from the Austrian striker. His ankle might have turned there though. Ouch. Vincent Kompany is coming on (David Silva). What a nightmare for Pep Guardiola this is turning out to be. What do Schalke do now? Do they go for it? Can they even?
65' Burgstaller finally comes on (it is indeed Mendyl who he replaces). Uth goes left, Burgstaller goes up top. The Austrian isn't fully fit, but you know he's going to run his socks for the final 25 here. Remarkable to say it, but Schalke are just 25 minutes away from securing what would be the biggest result of the last two weeks. Granted, City have an away goal but who would have thought Schalke might go to Manchester with a lead?
63' Oczipka again dallies and loses the ball in a dangerous position. Hasn't covered himself in glory tonight. Bernardo Silva doesn't get the penalty he wants from the resulting attack though. Perhaps Del Cerro doesn't want to award any more penalties? The long balls have started for Schalke though. Perhaps a bit early. By the way, Bentaleb is really good at penalties.
61' I'm also not a doctor - McKennie is ok to go continue it seems. Thumbs up from the medical staff who were treating him and the US man runs back on, somewhat gingerly. Burgstaller is still waiting to come on by the way. He has been stood there the whole time.
58' Clearly, I'm not out there but some of the decisions from Schalke are baffling. With options to spread the play and go wide, Uth opts for the long ball. McKennie seems to have pulled his groin, stretching for a block. The last thing Schalke need is more injuries. The US man is in pain.
55' This is a strange spot to be in for Schalke. They're ahead, when they weren't expecting to be, and now don't know whether to attack or sit back. Odd situation for Tedesco's men. So far, so good but can they hold on for another half an hour? Guido Burgstaller is about to come on (would guess for Uth or Mendyl. What Schalke must do first is stop giving the ball away so cheaply. Still far too much of that.
51' Superb play from City! Once again, they run circles around Schalke, Silva flicks it back for Aguero without even looking back (how?) but the Argentinean dallies a bit once in the box and Nastasic makes a huge block. Another moment survived for the home side.
49' Schalke have to weather an early storm as City start dancing in their box, but they survive. Then a great ball opens up the play, allows Caligiuri to deliver a dipping cross which is just beyond Uth. Already feels like this is going to be a thrilling second half.
46' City get us back underway. What will happen next?
What a half! Schalke turn it around thanks to two penalties, one that included a lengthy VAR decision. No one expected this, but Tedesco's defensive approach has worked and put Schalke in a great position. Still 45 minutes to go though, and the home side can expect wave after wave of attack. Oh, and maybe Leroy Sané too.
45+2' Man City are the ones in shock now. It doesn't last long though, and they're back in Schalke's box before long. Bernardo Silva fires over after neat passing gives him a chance to shoot. Three more minutes to come, probably after the lengthy VAR decision. Still can't believe this City team will go into the break a goal down...
44' GOAL! Schalke (Bentaleb pen.) Bentaleb steps up again. As cool as they come. This time Ederson goes the right way and gets a hand to it, but it's rising, and it ends in the net. Tedesco loves it. So does the home crowd. Schalke are winning! What is happening? No one predicted this!
43' PENALTY TO SCHALKE! Just like that, the home side have another spot kick. No doubts about this one though. Fernandinho holds on to Sane's hips as he runs to meet a free kick. Pretty silly from the Brazilian. Good decision. What a chance for Schalke now!
40' Not that the Veltins needed any excuse to wake up - it wasn't really asleep - but that just took the noise up a notch. Schalke are up for it. Caligiuri looks up for it. Uth does as well, but perhaps a bit too much. He's late on Gündogan and gets booked. This game is electric!
38' GOAL! Schalke (Bentaleb pen.) Bentaleb sends Ederson the wrong way and we are level. As cool as you like! Schalke are still alive!
36' PENALTY TO SCHALKE! Well, after Del Cerro talks to Fährmann and Silva for a long time, he gets the call (didn't he get it earlier?) and then without looking at the footage, points to the spot. What drama! Not sure about all of it. A good three minutes that! Otamendi booked for the handball (will miss the second leg).
33' Fährmann makes a good save to keep out De Bruyne's low effort. Schalke still working hard. McKennie loses it and then does brilliantly to win it back and start a Schalke attack. Caligiuri gets it wide right, takes a shot and it's blocked for a corner. Does it hit an arm on the way through? It does, but Otamendi was moving his arm away from the shot. Tricky. His arm is out and it is an extension of his body size. The decision is taking a long time...
30' Schalke are trying here, but their end product isn't there. Bentaleb impressing, but needs support. Can't escape the fact City look like they're going to score every time they go forward. Schalke are still in it though. It's only 1-0.
25' CHANCES! Game blows open. Sane forces it into a midfield where there are just no teammates. City surge forward and Sane makes another error, stepping up to make the challenge which he misses. A tough few moments for the defender. City play into the gap, but Sterling hesitates and the chance disappears. Schalke break, and it ends with Uth after a mistake by Gündogan. He gets 30 yards out and goes for goal, but his curler ends just past the far post. A busy minute or two there!
22' Schalke try to recover. Tough given that an impressive start has just been spoiled by a self-inflicted wound. Caligiuri wins a corner, but can't make anything of it. The crowd are as loud as ever, but that goal must hurt. It's not the conceding - that felt inevitable against this City team - it's the manner.
19' GOAL! 1-0 Man City (Aguero) There's the goal, but it's dodgy. Laporte seems to have fouled Uth in his attempt to win a header, but the referee waves play on. A few moves later, Fährmann sells Sane short with a pass, Silva nips in and squares it to Aguero who taps in. VAR checks for a foul, but decides no. Again, looked like a Laporte elbow in there. Still, Schalke only have themselves to blame for conceding like that. Just invited City to score.
17' City take it up a notch. De Bruyne has a go from range - easy for Fährmann. Then Sterling leaves Caligiuri in his dust, hangs up the cross and Aguero forces the corner. No major chance follows, but each time City put a bit more pressure, they look closer to scoring.
15' Mark Uth uttering the words: "You have to see this ref" to Spanish referee Carlos Del Cerro after McKennie gets called for a foul that looked like a 50/50. Bentaleb presses hard and wins the ball back. Schalke trying to hold the ball for a bit.
12' First few signs of nerves appear. Oczipka loses possession in a bad spot, but City can't capitalize. Schalke trying to play it out the back, but are often struggling to put enough passes together to make it work. City are poised, like a wild cat. They are ready to pounce.
10' City have had 70 percent of the ball in the opening 10 minutes. It was always going to be this way, and Schalke have dealt well minus one scene. Physical start from Tedesco's side too.
7' But just like that, City force a chance. Caligiuri gives away a free kick near the corner of the box and what follows is a training ground move. It goes short, and then three passes later a cross is hung up for Aguero who forces a reflex save out of Fährmann. Back-to-back corners follow, but Schalke deal with both. The threat, if not clear before, is here though.
5' Schalke using their formation to close down the space, shifting from side to side as City move. They've hardly touched the ball, but the back five and four in midfield is working to stifle City early on.
2' McKennie is down the right, so it looks like a 5-4-1 for Schalke. Mendyl has indeed tucked in on the left. Compact, as was intended.
1' Schalke get us started. The battle of the two blues. Schalke all in dark blue, City in light blue.
20:58 Teams are out. Tedesco is wearing a smart suit. Gone for the thin tie as well, although his coat covers it all. He looks the part. Time to find out whether his team play their part.
20:54 Pep Guardiola said of Ilkay Gündogan before this game that the former Dortmund midfielder was one of the best players he has coached in his career. "An exceptional player." That's some praise. Will he make the difference in his home city tonight? Hard to say no.
20:47 It's nearly go time in the Veltins Arena. This is where Schalke want to be, but can they prove tonight that this is where they should be? Can they pull off a defensive masterclass and stop Manchester City from getting that all-important away goal?
20:33 Domenico Tedesco has been speaking before the game. "We'll start with three at the back. Sadly, we've got problems in attack. Konoplyanka is sick, Burgstaller is not at the point we'd like him to be and Skrzybski is coming off an injury." Given that, it's no surprise that Mark Uth is the only striker, but Kutucu not starting is a bit of a shock, especially given how little Schalke will expect of the ball. There have also been suggestions that Hamza Mendyl will start up top with Uth. At this rate, anything is a possibility.
20:24 Want a throwback? In 2008, Schalke played Manchester City in the group stages of the Europa League. City won 2-0 thanks to goals from Benjani and Stephen Ireland. The line-ups make for a trip down memory lane. Can you believe that's nearly 11 years ago? Tonight's teams look a little different.
Schalke XI: Neuer - Rafinha, Westermann, Bordon, Pander - Jones, Engelaar - Rakitic, Farfan, H. Altintop - Kuranyi
Man City XI: Hart - Richards, Kompany, Dunne, Garrido - Hamann - Wright-Phillips, Ireland - Vassell, Sturridge - Benjani
20:12 Leroy Sane is back home. Perhaps he'll come off the bench and score, just to remind the locals of what they're missing. In truth, his presence is probably enough.
19:59 TEAM NEWS! In-form striker Ahmed Kutucu is on the bench for Schalke, with Mark Uth preferred. Ralf Fährmann starts over Alex Nübel in goal and Suat Serdar stays in midfield despite his dangerous tackle (that saw him sent off) against Freiburg last Friday. And who knows where Weston McKennie is playing? Up front?
Guardiola goes all out attack, as perhaps expected given their role as favorites. Leroy Sane is on the bench, but City are only playing three defenders with five attacking players. This could be a cricket score.
Schalke XI: Fährmann - Mendyl, Sane, Bruma, Nastasic, Oczipka - Caligiuri, Serdar, Bentaleb - McKennie - Uth
Manchester City XI: Ederson - Walker, Laporte, Otamendi - Fernandinho, Gündogan - Silva, De Bruyne, Bernardo, Sterling - Aguero
19:48 Schalke might have lost one player to Manchester City, but they recently signed one too. Welsh winger Rabbi Matondo was a surprise signing for Schalke in January, and has the chance to cause his former side some discomfort tonight. At just 18, the Welsh winger has already made three appearances for Schalke - three more than he made for City's first team. Here he is speaking ahead of the game. Got to love that Welsh accent. Worth mentioning, Matondo is the first Welsh player to ever play in the Bundesliga. Even more history accompanies the young man.
19:35 It's also the return of local favorite, Leroy Sané (and Gelsenkirchen-born Ilkay Gündogan). The Schalke youth product shone in royal blue before leaving for City's lighter shade in 2016. It was a big-money move (reportedly €50m), but the 23-year-old hasn't looked back. He has been in devastating form for City and has almost made twice as many appearances for his new club than his former. The signs were there when Sane made his one and only Champions League appearance for Schalke (see the picture below). The winger scored in a thrilling 4-3 victory against Real Madrid in Spain, quietly announcing himself on the world stage. For more on Sane, be sure to read our special look at Leroy Sane as he returns to the place where he burst onto the big stage. It's worth reading, we promise.
19:28 Tonight, of course, is a first for head coach Domenico Tedesco. A 33-year-old head coach who almost exactly two years ago was appointed head coach of second-division side Erzgebirge Aue, now faces one of the best sides in Europe and one of the greatest head coaches of all time. Just let that sink in. What a moment it will be for him. Niko Kovac did well on his coaching debut in the knockouts last night. Can Tedesco follow suit?
19:11 In Manchester City, Schalke might have got the worst possible draw. Pep Guardiola's side are fighting Liverpool at the top of the table in the Premier League, and have scored by far the most goals in the process (74). In Europe, they topped their group with 13 points and a +13 goal difference. On paper, they're the complete opposite to Schalke, who in Europe sealed second spot despite scoring just six times in their six group-stage games.
19:01 Good evening! This is it. The final curtain of the first legs in the Round of 16 and taking center stage is the one German club that many have given no chance to. Schalke have just 23 points from 22 games this season, and are above the bottom four clubs fighting relegation. Head coach Domenico Tedesco is under pressure, as is sporting director Christian Heidel. Making the knockouts of the Champions League wasn't supposed to happen like this, but Schalke are here. Now they have to take their chance.