Raul hits 71 in Schalke draw
© AFP

Spain striker Raul Gonzalez scored his 71st goal in European competition as Schalke recovered from a goal down to force a draw with Valencia at the Mesetalla in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last 16 clash.

Raul tucked away the equaliser in the 63rd minute, and the outcome might have been even better for the German side if Junmin Hao had finished a chance in injury-time that was Vicente Guaita saved. The visitors were then reduced to 10 men at the death with the dismissal of Lukas Schmitz.

Valencia had plenty of chances to put the game - and potentially the tie - out of reach after Roberto Soldado had put them ahead in the first half, however they could not take advantage and will face a tough trip to Gelsenkirchen.

You can't give Raul a metre, if he has a chance he does what he did to us.
Roberto Soldado, Valencia striker

"We knew they were dangerous and had quality players in attack," said Soldado. "You can't give Raul a metre, if he has a chance he does what he did to us. We are an ambitious team and we had hoped for a more positive result, but we have done so much to get here that we are not going to give up now."

Both sides attacked from the off, and Guaita was called into action in the fourth minute when Jose Manuel Jurado swung in a free-kick from the left forcing the Valencia goalkeeper to punch the ball away under pressure. The visitors should have taken the lead in the ninth minute when Klaas-Jan Huntelaar found himself unmarked as Valencia appealed for offside but he completely miskicked.

However, it was the hosts who took the lead. Jeremy Mathieu overlapped on the left wing and crossed into the near post where Soldado had lost his marker, and the striker sent a first-time right-footed shot into the bottom right corner.

Schalke kept plugging away and Mehmet Topal was powerless to stop the ball hitting his hands in front of his face in the penalty area before Guaita had to be alert to push Peer Kluge's looping header on to the bar, but they were having problems dealing with Valencia's attacking play.

Miguel kept getting forward and on one occasion put a ball in for Soldado who flicked a header just past the left post. Schalke also allowed Aritz Aduriz to get free in the box and would have been thankful when his fine first touch was not matched by the finish as the striker put the shot into the side netting. Tino Costa unleashed a fierce shot from long range which startled Manuel Neuer, as Valencia ended the first half in the ascendancy.

We are an ambitious team and we had hoped for a more positive result.
Soldado

Ever Banega's ball across goal was not anticipated and it went inches wide before Schalke had a good chance to equalise when Raul brought down Neuer's goal kick and unleashed a shot from the edge of the area, forcing Guaita to dive to his right to push the ball away. Aduriz again lost his marker in the area but his shot was more like a backpass, and Valencia were penalised when Raul equalised.

The ball was played in from the left by Jurado and Raul nipped across David Navarro, took a touch and placed the ball under the goalkeeper.

Ricardo Costa played a poor backpass with Raul lurking, which the goalkeeper had to be alert to sweep away. Valencia must have been frustrated to find themselves on level terms given their dominance of goalscoring chances.

Aduriz had a feeble attempt at a chip after being played in but Schalke were a far different proposition in the second half and they had a chance to take a 2-1 lead in the tie.

Hao found himself with just the goalkeeper to beat. He unleashed a firm, low shot which Guaita did well to turn aside before Schmitz was sent off, although the referee had to be alerted by one of his fellow officials that he had been booked twice.