Schalke coach Ralf Rangnick revelled in his side’s stunning 5-2 victory in the San Siro over holders Inter last night, but admitted “we’re not in the semi-finals just yet”.
Inter went ahead in the very first minute, getting off to the dream start through Dejan Stankovic. The German side hit back though, shocking the San Siro with two goals through Joel Matip and Edu, either side of a Diego Milito strike, meaning the sides went into half time level at 2-2.
Seven minutes after the break, Champions League record goalscorer Raul put Schalke ahead, before Inter defender Andrea Ranocchia turned a cross into his own net. Christian Chivu was sent off on 62 minutes, and with fifteen minutes remaining Edu added a fifth for the visitors.
“We are not in the semi-finals just yet, but we have a pretty big chance now”, said Rangnick post-match.
“We know we have to digest this first before we can fully appreciate it. Even at 3-2 and more so at 4-2 and after the second yellow for Chivu, I was certain we would not lose any more. In the end, we could have scored even more. It is surely the best game of my career.”
“We saw Saturday’s game here and how much space Milan were given so we decided to start with José Manuel Jurado, to play football. If you try to just defend against a team like Inter, you are asking for trouble. Still, the first half was incredible: it could have been 5-5 at half-time.
“With [Klaas-Jan] Huntelaar sidelined it was clear we needed a solution for the position of central forward and Edu needs to play there; he is not a winger. He got a real chance tonight and took it. Today, we can celebrate a bit, but then we have to focus on Saturday.”
And Inter boss Leonardo admitted that it was hard to envisage a Nerazzurri recovery, though they would try.
“It has been a very difficult week in every sense: first the derby knockout, now this heavy defeat against Schalke,” said the Brazilian. “Tonight’s game started in the best possible fashion and it would have been difficult to predict what was to come. Early in the second half we missed a couple of chances and immediately Schalke scored their third.
“They had six or seven shots and scored five goals, so in that we can feel hard done by. 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. We played a different game tonight, changing several things, but still that was missing.
“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.”