Struggling Bundesliga side Schalke remain unbeaten in continental competition. US international Jermaine Jones salvaged a 1-1 draw versus Galatasaray in Istanbul, giving the Royal Blues a slim advantage for the home leg.
Schalke went to Turkey depleted and off-form, facing a side bristling with new star signings Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba. Nevertheless, the German side scrapped it out for a 1-1 draw in an evenly-matched encounter - meaning they bring a precious away goal back to Gelsenkirchen.
The opening half hour of the game was a wild ride, with both attacks clearly in the ascendancy.
First blood went to the Turkish hosts, however, following a sloppy pass from Schalke's usually sure-footed Roman Neustädter after 12 minutes.
Didier Drogba helped the ball through to his strike partner Burak Yilmaz, who looped the ball over his marker with a sumptuous, flicked first touch and ran on to volley it home.
Schalke, who were seemingly winning corners for fun in the first period, immediately spurned a chance at the other end. Benedikt Höwedes headed at the near post across the face of goal, both Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Joel Matip were on hand to find an open goal at the back post but neither got to the ball.
Seconds later, Drogba tested Schalke keeper Timo Hildebrand from close in and then Bayern Munich old-boy Hamit Altintop rattled a follow-up shot against the crossbar.
After an end-to-end 45 minutes, the equalizer finally fell on the stroke of half time. Huntelaar set Jefferson Farfan free down the right flank on the break. The Peruvian showed first his pace, then his vision, setting up midfielder Jermaine Jones for a powerful edge-of-the-box finish.
The US international thus made amends for a yellow card received moments earlier, which meant Schalke would miss a key player in the return leg through suspension.
The breakaway goal was also facilitated by some fine defensive work from 19-year-old left back Sead Kolasinac, who had an impressive outing in place of the off-color Christian Fuchs.
Compared to the firecracker first, the second half was a stale affair. A rapidly deteriorating playing surface did very little to encourage fine football.
Galatasaray probably enjoyed the most clearcut chances - usually courtesy of defensive errors by Schalke helping them on their way - but the Bundesliga side had the lion's share of possession at 57 percent. The Royal Blues also fired off more shots, 15 to Galatasaray's 12, but only managed to test Uruguayan keeper Fernando Muslera on two occasions.
Huntelaar probably had Schalke's best chance of the second half, also his last kick of the game before being subbed out, but volleyed a Draxler cross high over the bar.
Coach Jens Keller's struggling outfit will play host to Galatasaray in the second leg on March 12 in a bid to reach the quarterfinals - just three days after the difficult derby against arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund.
In Wednesday's other Champions League match, AC Milan stunned visitors Barcelona, beating them 2-0.