They did have to survive a scare to come through 3-2 winners against 1. FC Nürnberg, who got back into the game with a Tobias Kempe brace.
Schalke turn on the style
The game was initially an even contest but that soon turned on its head as Schalke began to wreak havoc with the Nürnberg back-line. The Royal Blues felt hard done by early on when Abdul Baba Rahman's cross hit the outstretched hand of Lukas Mühl; Frank Willenborg waved away appeals.
Konoplyanka then began to get going and after going close once before, after a lovely through-ball from Maximilian Meyer, he took advantage from a corner. Meyer's delivery wasn't met by anyone and reached the six-yard box at knee height, as the Ukrainian international improvised to cleverly flick past Thorsten Kirschbaum.
More Schalke pressure produced a second goal, and this was all down to a fantastic run from Junior Caicara. The Brazilian wing-back got the ball out wide and proceeded to beat three defenders with superb skill and pace before crossing to Huntelaar. The Dutchman controlled and finished with consummate ease from five yards out.
There was some hope for the hosts when Tim Leibold darted down the right and crossed towards Guido Burgstaller, although Ralf Fährmann was able to intervene before Matja Nastasic cleared. To make matters worse, Konoplyanka finished in style after a super stop from Kirschbaum to keep out Nabil Bentaleb's deflected header.
Nürnberg almost complete remarkable comeback
With a healthy first half lead and the derby on Saturday in mind, Markus Weinzierl brought the booked Bentaleb off at the break for Junior Aogo. That didn't disrupt the flow and Schalke continued to cause problems, mainly through Meyer, although it was Konoplyanka again who was denied by another smart Kirschbaum stop.
From there, despite the visitors' dominance, Nürnberg gave themselves a life-line. Good work down the left from Leibold saw his cross find the head of Burgstaller, but he only succeeded in knocking the ball backwards. Thankfully for the Austrian, Kempe was on hand to fire the ball back in off Abdul Baba Rahman's legs to make it 1-3.
Baba almost redeemed himself immediately when a mix-up between Even Hovland and Kirschbaum presented the ball to the left-back, but his effort rolled agonisingly onto the base of the post and away to safety. Schalke, however, were still comfortable.
Well, they were until the home side got a penalty with 22 minutes to go. As Hanno Behrens burst into the box and attempted to cut the ball back, he was crudely shoulder-barged off the ball by Caicara. The Brazilian was booked, Behrens went off injured but Kempe stayed cool to thump into the bottom corner and restore hope.
Kempe then fed Edgar Salli as the Franconian outfit pilled forward, but the substitute's poked finish was just wide of the left-hand post. The hosts pushed but Schalke kept things tight, aside from a dodgy back-pass at the death to progress into the next round; just.