Schalke: Roberto di Matteo admitted Schalke 04 rode their luck as their dramatic 4-3 Champions League win over 10-man Sporting Lisbon on Tuesday was settled by a dubious penalty.
Sporting were denied a Group G point in Gelsenkirchen when Schalke substitute Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting converted a controversial 93rd-minute penalty.
Replays showed Russian referee Sergey Karasev was wrong to award Schalke the decisive spot-kick as the ball struck defender Jonathan Silva in the face from a Klaas-Jan Huntelaar header.
It was a fortuitous let-off for Schalke who had seen their 3-1 lead eroded after Sporting`s Adrien Silva scored two second-half goals to level with 12 minutes left before the late controversy.
"The spectators probably had more fun watching that than the coach, but it was an important win," admitted di Matteo after what was just his second game in charge of the Royal Blues.
"When you lead 3-1, you must control the game better than that and we made silly mistakes.
"But it was a win and that was our aim."
But he admitted Schalke could consider themselves lucky for the penalty which sealed their first win of their European campaign.
"It looked like the ball hit the defender`s face for the penalty, but it`s three points and we need three more on Saturday," he said before Schalke`s next Bundesliga game against Bayer Leverkusen.
The win leaves Schalke second in the Group G table, two points behind leaders Chelsea with Sporting bottom ahead of the return leg in Lisbon in a fortnight.
Sporting`s coach Marco Silva was furious at both Karasev`s penalty decision and the first-half dismissal of centre-back Mauricio.
"What happened is not normal. It is a tremendous injustice. I don`t feel like saying anything else about it," he fumed.
"There are two completely different games - one before and one after the sending off."
Di Matteo coached Chelsea to glory in the 2012 Champions League during his eight-month reign at Stamford Bridge, and he faces his old side in Gelsenkirchen on November 25 in a Group G showdown.
Schalke held the London side to a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge last month when Jens Keller was still in charge.
However, Keller has since been replaced by the 44-year-old former Italy international, who has had a galvanising effect on the team as they have won both their games in his first fortnight in charge.
Sporting took an early lead on the night through Nani, then had centre-back Mauricio sent off for a second yellow card with just over half an hour gone before Schalke eased into a 3-1 lead.
Nigeria`s Chinedu Obasi, Huntelaar and Schalke captain Benedikt Hoewedes all hit the back of the net before Sporting fought back, only to be denied at the final whistle.
"Only the three points count, but to be honest, there was a lot of luck," admitted Hoewedes. "Seconds before the end it didn`t look like this could be a great evening, but we never gave up."