Real Madrid were stunned 4-3 by Schalke at the Santiago Bernabeu but held out 5-4 on aggregate in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday.
The BBC had come under scrutiny following a poor run of performances, but Coach Carlo Ancelotti decided to keep them on air as Alvaro Arbeloa, Fabio Coentrao and Sami Khedira were the only newcomers from the 1-0 defeat to Athletic Bilbao at the weekend. Elsewhere, Luka Modric marked his long-awaited return from a hamstring injury with a place on the bench, having been sidelined since representing Croatia in mid-November.
However, it was the Royal Blues who started most positively, with Los Blancos firmly on the back foot and looking a far cry from their usual selves.
Consequently, Christian Fuchs gave Schalke the lead with a powerful, left-footed shot in the Madrid box, but their advantage lasted merely a few minutes, Ronaldo responding almost immediately with a bullet header from a corner.
The European champions were then expected to grow as the match wore thin, but the Germans refused to buckle in the Santiago Bernabeu as Klaas-Jan Huntelaar first smashed the crossbar, before burying a rebound against his former club shortly after.
Nonetheless, it was up to Ronaldo again to rescue his Madrid teammates from a potentially sticky situation with another powerful header on the stroke of half-time, leaving the restart finely poised.
Madrid seemed to have extinguished the tie just seven minutes after the break, when Karim Benzema charged his way around a melee of Schalke shirts in the box and blasted a finish into an empty net.
The Frenchman’s goal was the first time the Spaniards had taken control of the match, yet just before the hour mark, substitute Leroy Sane, who replaced the injured Eric Choupo-Moting, rescued Schalke with a delightful, curling effort from the edge of the box.
Ancelotti’s troops managed to reclaim control of proceedings, which coincided with the return of Modric, but the midfielder’s horrible passback gifted Huntelaar a free pass at goal, and the Dutchman duly took his chance with aplomb.
Nonetheless, there was to be no late Schalke show and Madrid unconvincingly trudged into the quarter-finals of Europe’s elite club competition, amidst an outpouring of boos, jeers and white handkerchiefs from their own fans.
Real Madrid 3-4 Schalke (5-4 agg.)
Ronaldo 25, 45, Benzema 52 (R) Fuchs 20, Huntelaar 40, 84, Sane 57 (S)
Real Madrid: Casillas; Arbeloa, Pepe, Varane, Coentrao; Khedira, Kroos, Isco; Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo
Schalke: Wellenreuther; Nastasic, Matip, Howedes; Barnetta, Hoger, Neustadter, Meyer, Fuchs; Huntelaar, Choupo-Moting (Sane 29)
Referee: Skomina [SLO]