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Real inch closer to quarter finals berth

Title holders Real Madrid have one foot in the Champions League quarter-finals after beating Schalke in the last 16 first leg in Germany for a second year running on Wednesday.

A Cristiano Ronaldo header gave Real a deserved lead at the break and Marcelo rifled home a superb second goal with 11 minutes left as the Spanish league leaders stretched their winning streak in the competition to 10 games equaling Bayern Munich’s record winning run which ended in December 2013.

Ronaldo’s goal, his first in four matches, was his 73rd in the Champions League. The Ballon d’Or winner now sits only two behind Barcelona’s Lionel Messi in the all-time topscorers list and Real manager Carlo Ancelotti was delighted to see his star forward back on the scoresheet.

“It’s clear that Cristiano Ronaldo lives to score goals,” Ancelotti said. “It’s not a problem for us if he doesn’t score for a game or two but it’s obvious that the goal did him good.

“It wasn’t only a goal for the statistics. It was an important goal – the lead goal. At a key stage of the season it was important to win and I think we’re on the right track.”

STRUCK THE BAR

Schalke’s Champions League debutant Felix Platte had struck the bar before Marcelo’s goal, as the German side fared much better than last season when Real won 6-1 at the Veltins Arena.

Robert Di Matteo had employed a compact 5-3-2 formation in the hope of avoiding a repeat of that result but he was left with some regrets.

In the night’s other match, FC Porto were unfortunate not to come away from Switzerland with more than a 1-1 draw in Basel in their Champions League last 16, first leg tie on Wednesday.

Basel drew first blood in the 11th minute as Paraguayan Derlis Gonzalez shrugged off a challenge from Alex Sandro running on to a long defence-splitting ball through the middle from Fabian Frei and squeezed it past the onrushing Fabiano in the Porto goal.

In the end, it took a penalty from Danilo 11 minutes from the end after Walter Samuel had handled his cross in the area to bring Porto a deserved share of the spoils.