Schalke set up a UEFA Champions League semi-final encounter with Manchester United after beating Inter Milan for the second time in a week this evening, with a 2-1 result providing a 7-3 aggregate scoreline.
Following last Tuesday's emphatic 5-2 victory in Italy, it was the talismanic Raul and defender Benedikt Howedes who scored the goals which rubber-stamped Schalke's advance to the final four of the competition.
Inter failed to create anywhere near enough chances to bring about the unlikely comeback the defending European champions were hoping to achieve, only Thiago Motta managing to get his name on the scoresheet.
"It was a magnificent victory," said Schalke chairman Clemens Toennies, who sacked coach Felix Magath last month and replaced him with ex-Hoffenheim handler Ralf Rangnick.
Germany defender Christoph Metzelder, playing with a mask to protect a healing broken nose, said the Bundesliga side are growing in confidence. "We have seen in the two games just how much team this potential has, we really wanted to win this game out right," said Metzelder.
Rangnick was particularly pleased with work-rate of his side and the way they nullified the reigning champions. "We've produced two great performances," said Rangnick. "If you only allow the Champions League winners a couple of chances, you know you have played well. Each player worked hard for each other and that was the key to our success."
The first half was a cagey affair as the home side seemed happy to soak up Inter pressure and attack when possible. Samuel Eto'o had to drop deep right from the start of the game to get the ball as Schalke's defence would not give an inch. Inter were restricted to efforts from distance as Wesley Sneijder's third-minute strike, which was easily saved, set the tone for the first 30 minutes. Raul showed great movement to beat his man to the ball after 16 minutes, but his header was tame.
Inter had a string of corners just before the midway point of the first half but couldn't test Manuel Neuer in the Schalke goal until Dejan Stankovic's 25-yard effort after 35 minutes was tipped away by the diving German goalkeeper. Maicon also had a chance to give Inter the lead but he could not connect with Stankovic's floated cross.
Raul strikes again
Raul then made Inter pay for their inability to create worthwhile chances by scoring clinically on the stroke of half-time. The Inter defence seemed to part and allow the impressive Jose Manuel Jurado to slide a ball straight into the path of the unmarked Raul, who showed great composure to round Julio Cesar and slot home his 71st Champions League goal.
Inter, who changed shape at the interval by bringing on Goran Pandev for Stankovic, pulled a goal back four minutes into the second half when a deep Sneijder corner was headed goalwards by Lucio and bundled home by Motta from four yards out.
Schalke then had several opportunities to put the tie to bed once and for all. Firstly Kyriakos Papadopoulos was left free in the area but his header was high over Cesar's crossbar, then only two minutes later defender Howedes converted after a well-worked short corner routine, but the goal was ruled out for a debatable offside. Another headed opportunity was then missed by Papadopoulos as the home side started to exert control of the game.
Inter had a good spell of possession but again they could not create any clear-cut chances to take the lead on the night, Diego Milito and Eto'o both limited to efforts from outside the box which caused no problems for Neuer. Sneijder was then withdrawn with ten minutes remaining as Leonardo seemingly accepted defeat.
Howedes seals tie
That outcome was sealed a minute later as Howedes this time scored a legitimate goal as he continued a run and was found with a fantastic lofted ball from Raul before hammering past Cesar from the edge of the box.
The game then petered out as Schalke sat back and allowed Inter possession, but the visitors still couldn't force the issue as they knew they were on the verge of losing their grip of the Champions League trophy. Only Milito forced Neuer into action before the final whistle confirmed Schalke's memorable victory over the Italian giants.