Cristiano Ronaldo has come under a bit of fire for a lack of recent production–by his lofty standards–but the Ballon d'Or winner came through for Real Madrid when it need him most.
Ronaldo passed Raul to set a record for goals in European club competitions and then pulled level with Lionel Messi with his 75th career Champions League goal in helping Real Madrid stave off a furious rally from Schalke in the second leg of their round-of-16 series on Tuesday.
After Christian Fuchs brought Schalke within 2-1 on aggregate, Ronaldo answered soon after with a thunderous header off a corner kick:
Former Real Madrid forward Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored to bring Schalke back within 3-2–a scoreline that meant one more away goal could have put the German side through and eliminate the defending champion–but Ronaldo delivered a dagger in first-half stoppage time, heading home Fabio Coentrao's pinpoint cross to restore the two-goal edge.
Schalke kept the foot on the accelerator, pushing Real Madrid to the final seconds and winning the second leg 4-3 but ultimately falling 5-4 on aggregate. Schalke's Benedikt Howedes came close to a late goal, which would have put Schalke through on away goals, but Iker Casillas came up with a diving save to preserve the result and Real Madrid's place in the quarterfinals.
As for Ronaldo, the goals were his 40th and 41st in all competitions this season. He has 78 goals in European competitions, passing former Real Madrid and Schalke star Raul's mark of 77. Sixty of his Champions League goals have come with Real Madrid. Messi, who has 76 career goals in European competitions, will have the opportunity to claim those records next week, when Barcelona meets Manchester City in their round-of-16 second leg.