Never has a 1-1 draw match been so entertaining! 😀
Manchester United held Real Madrid to a scored draw at the Bernebeu in the first leg of the historic Champions League last-16 draw.
The Red Devils gave the Los Blancos a run for their money after Danny Welbeck got his side ahead on 20 minutes. The former Manchester United man, Christiano Ronaldo, equalized 10 minutes later with a towering header.
The spanish, David De Gea, goalie returned to his homeland to face his previous rivals. Johnny Evans was selected over Nemanja Vidic to partner Rio Ferdinand in the heart of defence along with the usual suspects, Patrice Evra and Rafael Da Silva. Phil Jones recovered from a minor knock suffered during the weekend and started alongside Michael Carrick. Shinji Kagawa and Danny Welbeck took the wide positions while Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie remained the striking pair.
Real Madrid, being it their home ground, started the game on the front foot. De Gea’s reputation of being a bit jaded in front of the goal meant Madrid took a shot on the goal on every chance they got. What they didnt know was De Gea was going to have one of his best nights. He showed he was going to be no pushover when he made a miraculous save from his finger tips to keep out Fabio Coentrao’s curling effort. He did just enough to push the ball onto the post and keep it in play.
United showed their intentions to win the game with their swift counter attacks with through balls to Kagawa and Welbeck. It was, actually, United’s only strategy when it came to attacking – get the ball, get a quick look where Danny boy is, launch the ball high up in the air and let him chase it down with his shattering speed! 😀 And boy, did he do his job! He sure proved everyone he was the right man for the job. How? Well, he scored!! Wayne Rooney, the provider, curled a high one from the left corner. Danny Welbeck, shook off Sergio Ramos, one of the most ruthless defenders in the game, and headed in his first Champions League goal of the season. 🙂
This only made Madrid attack with even more intent. Ronaldo almost levelled the score on 27 minutes through an in-range free kick. Well, the free kick didnt go beyond the wall, but his rebound effort zipped just past the post. 3 minutes later, Angel Di Maria, one of the better players of Madrid’s side for the night, crossed the ball from out wide for Christiano Ronaldo to head the ball in. The former Man Utd man rose high above Evra (real high!) to score his 7th in the Cup. He was noble enough to keep his celebrations low key, a mark of respect for his former club and the man he regards as one of the most important persons for him.
United had a glorious opportunity at 34 minutes when van Persie and Welbeck combined and almost took the lead again. But Madrid’s goalkeeper, Lopez, made a save he himself didn’t know about. The 1st half came to an end with both sides having equal opportunities to take control of the game.
The 2nd half started with the visitors, this time, pressing on early. van Persie, whatever little possession he got, made the most of it and made sure the Madrid defenders didnt have a walk in the park the whole time. De Gea, on the other end, had his share of work cut out as he made quite a few saves from long range efforts from Ronaldo and Di Maria.
Champions League matches are, more often than not, altered, to say the least, by questionable refeering. This match was no exception as the German referee made most of his decisions in favor of Real Madrid. A yellow card, for example, given to Robin van Persie early on in the game for putting his hand on Sergio Ramos’ face wouldn’t even have been a foul if it were the Premier League. Ofcourse, the theatrical abilities of Ramos sure helped the referee make his decision! But the real surprise came when the referee failed to give even a foul when, really, Varane should’ve been sent off for clipping Patrice Evra breaking away from their defence on the hour mark!
De Gea was yet again the hero when he made an audacious save with his legs to keep out Coentrao. A shot from Gonzalo Hinguan, Ronaldo, Ozil, Khedira were only some of the saves he made to keep Man Utd in the game. The more Madrid attacked, the more they left space open for United to counter attack. United had their best chance of 2nd half when van Persie had his right footed drive saved by Lopez. The ball fell to Giggs’s feet (who came on for Kagawa, you know, to strengthen things up a bit) who found van Persie with just the goalkeeper to beat. Unfortunately, he failed to connect properly and hit it with no power. Nonetheless, the ball still bounced its way towards the net but Xabi Alonso cleared it before the line.
United made sure they conceded no late goals. One of the things they did was make sure Ronaldo had a quiet 2nd half. How did they do that? See for yourself….. 🙂
Phil Jones, who had a fantastic game, yet again lived upto the expectations. He was given one job. Keep Ronaldo under control. So he did. 🙂
The referee, perhaps, got Madrid off the hook when he blew the final whistle with still time to go denying United to put the ball in the penalty box one last time from the corner. The game, thus, ended level on the scoreboard.
The Man of the Match, undoubtedly, was David De Gea. His critics will know better now than getting on his back every now and then. 🙂
Sir Alex Ferguson, definitely was the happier of the two managers given his team scored a precious away goal with the second leg to play at Old Trafford. Although the tie looks evenly balanced, Manchester United have a slender edge over Real Madrid. The Red Devils might tip the spanish giants to qualifying through to the quarter finals. Lets wait and watch!!
Glory Glory Man Utd!! 😀