Man United 1 Real Madrid 2: Lessons learned as Red Devils crash out
Man United 1 Real Madrid 2: What lessons did we learn as Real Madrid advanced to the quarter-finals after a controversial clash?
Tense first half
Sir Alex Ferguson was always going to be the happier of the two coaches with a clean sheet at half time. It was certainly a first half full of great chances and drama as the Red Devils and Los Blancos battled it out at Old Trafford on Tuesday night. It truly was end-to-end stuff with chances aplenty for both sides. Ryan Giggs and company had the more clear-cut opportunities throughout, with Danny Wellbeck, in particular, guilty of missing an absolute sitter mid-way through the opening 45. A Nemanja Vidic header rebounded off the visitors’ post before landing at the feet of the England international, but he couldn’t convert from only three yards out. Madrid had their chances, too, but overall they were far too tentative in their play, and were unable to capitalise down the flanks as much as they would have liked. Everything was to change in a tense and enraging second half though.
Nani sees red
Following such a bright start to the second half for the English side as United went ahead through Sergio Ramos’ unfortunate own-goal, things took a turn for the worse as Nani was dismissed for a high foot on Alvaro Arbeloa in the 56th minute. It appeared somewhat harsh and what followed was a tense 30-minute spell as the United fans, urged by Ryan Giggs and Ferguson himself, increased the decibel level as Madrid took control of possession. The United boss will have been furious with the referee’s decision as it clearly had a very negative impact on United’s game-plan. As a result, they were forced to take the back seat and defend deep for large periods. Although Sir Alex attempted to re-jig his formula by bringing Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young on, Real Madrid were good enough to hold on for the win, using the space of the extra man whenever they could and continuing to attack on the counter.
Ronaldo scores again
Despite not playing terribly well on the night, Cristiano Ronaldo still managed to hit the back of the net against his former club. First though it was Luka Modric who drew the sides level in the 66th minute with a fantastic strike from 20 yards. In truth, it was a tremendous goal that United ‘keeper, David de Gea would have done well to deny. Then, merely three minutes later, the former United winger got his name on the score-sheet as he slipped Gonzalo Higuain’s ball expertly in at the back post. At that point, it looked as though Mourinho’s men would run away with the match and grab a few more goals, however the United players, rallied by their fans, began to attack the Madrid goal with all they had. It wasn’t enough though, and Madrid now advance to the quarter finals on an aggregate score-line of three goals to two. United fans will be aggrieved by the referee’s decision and even Jose Mourinho’s assertion that the best team on the night lost will not do much to console them now.