Berlin – Schalke 04 showed they are not ready to give up on the season just yet after a 1-1 draw at Galatasaray gave them hope of reaching the Champions League quarter-finals.
Schalke topped Champions League Group B after a fine start to the season but a slump at the end of last year saw them win just once in their last 11 Bundesliga games.
The German team, who made it to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2011, may have kickstarted their campaign with a battling performance in Istanbul in the last 16 on Wednesday.
The win also gave coach Jens Keller, under pressure due to their domestic slump, some much-needed breathing space.
“We played a very good game and did a lot of things right,” Keller told reporters. “It was an absolute team performance. I still have a lot of fun with this team and I will continue doing my work.”
While Keller's job is still far from safe, the draw will bring much needed confidence and calmness to the Schalke squad.
“When you score a goal and not lose in an away game for this competition then it is a good starting point for the second leg,” Keller said.
“These are the games that bring stability back. But we are clear about how tough Galatasaray are so it is a good starting point, but nothing more and nothing less.”
Keller had been feeling the huge burden of expectation in his Champions League debut but said it was coming from the media, not from the club.
“I have picked to do this job and it is all about appeasing people with results like this one. Although the pressure was not coming from the club or players, it was coming from the media.”
With all eyes on the Turkish team's two new signings - Champions League winners Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder – Schalke braved an early onslaught and a fiery stadium atmosphere.
They cancelled out the hosts' lead on the stroke of halftime through Jermaine Jones, who will be suspended for the return leg.
Schalke also fought back against Mainz 05 last week, twice equalising in a 2-2 draw.
“It just comes to prove that Schalke are a competition team,” said goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand. “When it really matters we are there.” – Reuters