Jermaine Jones' strike in the last minute of the first half gave Schalke a slight advantage as it drew 1-1 at Galatasaray in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 encounter on Wednesday.
Jones, a United States international, calmly slotted home after Jefferson Farfan had squared the ball to him to give the German side a vital draw at the Turk Telekom Arena, although Schalke's goalscorer will miss the second leg after picking up a booking.
Jones became just the second American to score in the Champions League knockout stage, after DaMarcus Beasley scored for PSV Eindhoven in the last 16 in 2005.
Burak Yilmaz had earlier put Gala in front with a piece of individual brilliance but the hosts could not extend their lead in a breathtaking first half in which both teams failed to convert several opportunities.
The second half was decidedly less open. Yilmaz nearly gave Gala a slender lead heading into the second leg but could only fire wide of the target.
But it was Yilmaz who produced a moment of magic worthy of either of the pair when he broke the deadlock in sparkling fashion.
The forward collected the ball from Selcuk Inan on the edge of the area before flicking over Schalke defender Benedikt Howedes with his heel and wonderfully firing into the roof of the net in the 12th minute.
It was a sickening blow for the visitors, who had seen Gala keeper Fernando Muslera make fine saves from both Jones and Klaas Jan Huntelaar in the opening minute.
Nevertheless, they nearly leveled almost immediately after Yilmaz's brilliance, but Huntelaar just failed to connect with Howedes' flick-on from Farfan's corner.
And in an increasingly open first half, they were nearly made to pay when Howedes fired against the bar with the goal gaping after Drogba had seen his left-footed strike fingertipped away by Schalke goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand.
It was the German side that nearly scored next though, with Semih Kaya deflecting Farfan's cutback wide of his own post, while the influential Schalke striker struck over on the turn despite being given plenty of space in the area.
Both sides seemed to view attack as the best form of defense and Drogba, who was making a nuisance of himself in Schalke's backline, played in Yilmaz but he could not lift his effort over Hildebrand.
Yet Schalke drew level on the stroke of half-time courtesy of Jones, who will miss the second leg after picking up a booking for dissent.
Farfan burst through on goal after Gala had given the ball away in midfield and squared for the free Jones and he calmly struck past Muslera.
It was a far more subdued affair after the interval although Schalke did have a decent penalty appeal turned down when Farfan's fierce strike looked to have cannoned off Sabri Sarioglu's hands, which were raised to his chest.
It was not until late on that the game sprang back into life, with Yilmaz shooting across the face of goal from Drogba's inch-perfect flick-on while Sarioglu's half-volley from the edge of the area was tipped over by Hildebrand.
And Gala's efforts to push for a winner nearly backfired completely when, at the other end, Julian Draxler dribbled to the edge of the box unchecked before shooting inches wide of Muslera's right-hand post.
Information from Press Association was used in this report.