By ADAM TROXTELL
Real Madrid was far from impressive, but the reigning Champions League winner did just enough to earn a spot in the quarterfinal round.
After entering the day with a 2-0 advantage, Real survived quite the scare from Schalke, losing, 4-3, but advancing, 5-4, on aggregate. Led by a brace from Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid’s advancement was anything but a cakewalk.
The Spanish giants were out-hustled and outplayed throughout the first half, as Schalke had chance after chance to open the series’ second leg. Finishes from Christian Fuchs and Klaas Jan-Huntelaar in the opening stanza gave the visitors hope, but the German side was pushed back twice by Ronaldo headers against the run of play.
Real seemed to have iced it in the 52nd minute via a patient finish from Karim Benzema, but responses from Huntelaar and substitute Leroy Sane brought Schalke within a goal of advancing. That was as close as they would come though, as goalkeeper Iker Casillas made a pair of late saves to seal the Real Madrid victory.
Compared to Real, Porto’s final step into the quarterfinal round was a stroll.
An early Yacine Brahimi goal set the tone for an enjoyable evening as the hosts won, 4-0, on the night, and 5-1 on aggregate past FC Basel. Porto took the game to the Swiss club, looking controlled in attack while Basel attempted to sit back and absorb pressure.
That tactic was unraveled in the 14th minute when Brahimi curled a free kick into the upper right corner. The 1-0 score line held going into halftime, with Basel opting to pass its way forward and failing to really put a solid shot on goal.
In contract, Porto leapt at every chance in the second half. Hector Herrera made it 2-0 when he cut inside on his left foot and curved a shot around Tomas Vaclik in goal.
Casemiro put in his own free kick goal in the 56th minute, this time with the left foot inside the left corner. By now, Porto was in cruise control.
Vincent Aboubakar capped off the performance with a strike from distance, picking up the ball in midfield before running at the Basel defense and unleashing a shot inside the right corner of the net. The frustration for Basel boiled over when experienced central defender Walter Samuel picked up a second yellow card for body-checiking Aboubakar off the ball in stoppage time.