Burak Yilmaz opened the scoring for the Turkish side in brilliant fashion in the 12th minute when he received the ball from Selcuk Inan before he managed to use his heel to flick the ball over the head of Schalke defender Benedikt Howedes to then fire home for his seventh goal of the competition.
A Galatasaray side boasting starting debutants Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder would have been expected to run away with the game at 1-0 but Schalke were able to produce an equaliser on the stroke of half-time.
USA international Jermaine Jones was played in by Jefferson Farfan on the counter and slotted neatly past Fernando Muslera for the leveller.
There were fewer opportunities in the second half as Schalke went about saving face and they will now be confident of recording the required result when the two clubs meet in Gelsenkirchen on March 12.
2012/13 UEFA Champions League – Round of 16 first leg
Turk Telekom Arena, Istanbul – 50,734