With Sir Alex Ferguson watching from the stands, Schalke reached their first-ever Champions League semi-final last night in Gelsenkirchen with a stylish display that showed their 5-2 San Siro humiliation of the Italian title-holders last week was no fluke. Manchester United will be taking nothing for granted after the German side simply outplayed one of the European club football's aristocrats.
With Schalke rapidly recovering from an erratic start to their domestic campaign under new coach Ralf Rangnick, United will be especially concerned at the resurgent form of Raul, who killed the contest with a sweetly constructed goal on the stroke of half-time, picking up Jose Manuel Jurado's pass before coolly rounding Julio Cesar and slotting home.
It was the 71st goal in the Champions League for the competition's record scorer. The 33-year-old former Real Madrid talisman, a summer arrival on a two-year contract, looked a reinvigorated player last night.
The first half had been a cagey affair with the Germans happy to soak up the pressure and attack on the counter, but the Italians failed to create anywhere near enough chances to bring about the unlikely comeback
Inter changed shape at the interval by bringing on Goran Pandev for Dejan Stankovic, and pulled a goal back four minutes into the second half when a deep Wesley Sneijder corner was headed goalwards by Lucio and bundled home by Thiago Motta from four yards out past the generally rock-solid Manuel Neuer in goal.
But the Germans sealed the victory they deserved nine minutes from time when Benedikt Howedes raced on to a lofted pass from Raul to fire in the winner.
Schalke (4-4-2) Neuer; Uchida, Metzelder, Howedes, Sarpei; Baumjohann, Matip, Papadopoulos, Jurado; Edu, Raul.
Internazionale (4-3-1-2) Julio Cesar; Maicon, Lucio, Ranocchia, Nagatomo; Stankovic, Motta, Zanetti; Sneijder; Eto'o, Milito.