It was billed as Sir Alex against Mourinho, The return of Ronaldo, The game the world wanted to see. But in the end it was United’s youngsters who took centre stage and grabbed the headlines in this pulsating 1-1 draw at the Santiago de Bernabeu.
The game needed no introduction as 2 of Europes heavyweights met in the last 16 stage of the Champions League, the first encounter between the clubs in 10 years. And what a spectacle it was. After some early pressure from Madrid, United broke the deadlock through Manchester lad, Danny Welbecks headed goal from a Wayne Rooney corner. But it was inevitable, written in the script, ‘that boy Ronaldo’ rose majestically in the box to head a powerful header past David de Gea.
It was a strange game. Both sides had the chances to score 5 or more, but Real Madrid were easily the better side. United were a bit sloppy in the first half but defended much better in the 2nd half, closing down the spaces more effectively and protecting the slender advantage.
David de Gea: Superb! kept the scoreline at 1-1 in what otherwise could have been a cricket score. Made some excellent saves, including tipping a Coentrao effort onto the post in the first half. Rightly receiving some overdue praise from the press. 9/10
Rafael: Was tasked with marking Ronaldo and on the whole did well to contain him. Sometimes was caught out of position though and received a booking. 7/10
Rio Ferdinand: Defended well throughout. 7/10
Jonny Evans: Defended well, although he could have done more with the cross that lead to Ronaldo’s goal. 7/10
Patrice Evra: Not Evra’s best game but did ok. Didn’t jump for the cross either for Ronaldo’s equaliser. 6/10
Wayne Rooney: Personally, i thought Rooney was poor. Didn’t really get involved in the game. Provided the corner for Welbecks goal though. Was replaced in the 2nd half. 5/10
Phil Jones: Operating in midfield and did an excellent job once again in nullifying the attacking threat of Real Madrid. 9/10
Michael Carrick: Decent game, protected the defence well. 7/10
Danny Welbeck: Excellent game from the youngster. Took his goal well and it was no more than he deserved. He was a willing runner both forwards and back. Was replaced in the 2nd half. 9/10
Shinji Kagawa: Started well but faded as the match went on. Was replaced in the 2nd half. 7/10
Robin van Persie: Had a quiet game, although he could have had a hat trick on another day if it wasn’t for the goalkeeper, the crossbar, or a scuffed shot. 8/10
Ryan Giggs: Came on to see the game out and provided some more experience 6/10
Antonio Valencia: Replaced Welbeck and picked up a booking. 6/10
Anderson: Came on late for Rooney.
After a pulsating game, it is evenly balanced for the 2nd leg with United having the narrowest of advantages thanks to Welbecks important away goal. Real Madrid have to go for it and must score. A 0-0 or a United win would see United progress to the quarter finals and its just a shame we have to wait 3 weeks to find out the outcome of this tie. It will also be Cristiano’s first time back to Old Trafford so we will all be hoping we can keep him quiet upon his return ‘home’.
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