Vintage Raul finds form for Schalke

GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Raul has not been the quickest to adapt to pastures new with Schalke 04 after moving from his beloved Real Madrid but Wednesday offered evidence at last that he is finally feeling at home.

His two goals - the Spaniard's first in the Champions League for the Germans following his July move - took Schalke to a 3-1 win over Hapoel Tel Aviv in Group B.

Equally to the point, it showed Raul in the kind of form which made him such a handful in his 18 distinguished years at the Bernabau.

The goals advanced the competition's all-time leading scorer's tally to 68 and nobody was smiling more afterwards than his manager Felix Magath who knows better than most the problems Raul has had with only one goal in the Bundesliga so far.

"For him this is liberation. You just saw how good he positions himself. 68 goals," said Magath.

"I think he knows by now how to enjoy such goals - but hopefully not with a glass of Rioja wine."

The 33-year-old Raul is too much of a professional and too experienced to break open the best red vintage just yet.

He opened his account in the third minute after Klaas-Jan Huntelaar let a Jose Manuel Jurado pass slide through his legs.

He doubled the hosts' lead with a close range effort in the 58th minute before Jurado added another 10 minutes later.

"I am delighted tonight because we played a very good game and we were better than our opponents," a beaming Raul told reporters.

"To score two goals in such a big game, my first for Schalke (in the Champions League) makes me feel good. I never thought I would score 68 goals. It is a day that I want to remember."

The Israelis, who found no answer to Schalke's attacking game, got a stoppage time consolation goal through Etey Schechter.

Schalke, who are struggling near the bottom of the Bundesliga after a miserable start to the season despite spending millions buying new players over the summer, attacked from the start as Magath opted for an aggressive formation.

Raul and Huntelaar were supported by Jurado and fellow attacking midfielder Jefferson Farfan while versatile defender Jermaine Jones was picked instead of Joel Matip.


The move paid off as Huntelaar and Raul left their markers frozen with a dazzling combination, with the Dutchman letting a Jurado pass roll through his legs and the Spaniard firing in an unstoppable left-footed shot.

Schalke deserved at least one more goal before Raul struck again in the second half, with Huntelaar being denied by Hapoel keeper Vincent Enyeama from close range.

Huntelaar then managed to hit the crossbar with two consecutive headers as Schalke upped the pressure early in the second half in search for another goal.

Raul made amends for the miss in the 58th minute, tucking in an Ivan Rakitic pass before Jurado added another 10 minutes later with a fine curled shot from inside the box.

Hapoel's Schechter grabbed a goal for the visitors deep in stoppage time after a defensive mix-up.

"It was crucial for us to score goals tonight and play a good game," said