March 6, 2013 at 12:10 am
Manchester United 1-2 Real Madrid (Real Madrid win 3-2 on aggregate)
Manchester United: Ramos (OG) 48′.
Real Madrid: Modric 66′, Ronaldo 69′.
Sent Off: Nani (Manchester United)
Cristiano Ronaldo scored the winning goal on his return to Old Trafford as Real Madrid beat Manchester United 3-2 on aggregate to book their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
In what was an action-packed first half, chances fell to both sides with Madrid proving to be no pushovers in the first 15 minutes. Gonzalo Higuain had the best chance for the away side, skipping past two players on the edge of the area before firing his effort wide of David De Gea’s left hand post.
United’s best chance of the half came from defender Nemanja Vidic who’s header from a corner rattled off the post and hit Danny Welbeck who’s rebounded effort fell straight into the arms of keeper Diego Lopez.
Ronaldo also had a few glances at goal, his best effort in the first 45 came with a left-footed strike which was consequently blocked. Welbeck also threatened at the other end after Lopez parried Robin Van Persie’s volley but the 22-year-old England international could only hit his shot against the incoming Lopez and over the crossbar.
Both sides came out determined in the second half, and it was the home side who drew first blood just minutes after the break. Raphael Varane failed to clear a loose ball and Nani worked the ball into a dangerous area only for Sergio Ramos to direct the ball into his own net. The task still remained the same for Real – a goal was needed.
Their hunt for a goal was made easier though after a controversial decision by Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir who brandished Nani with a shock red card for a clumsy challenge on Alvaro Arbeloa. The Portuguese star raised his foot in an attempt to win the ball and caught the former-Liverpool defender and after both players received mild treatment, the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ was stunned when the winger was shown his marching orders just before the hour mark.
This effectively changed the game and ten minutes later Madrid were back on level terms. Substitute Luka Modric found space on the edge of the area and unleashed a stunning strike from 25 yards which past David De Gea, onto the post and into the back of the net. Moments later and that lead was doubled. Ronaldo once again the scorer for Jose Mourinho’s side, converting a Gonzalo Higuain cross to turn the tie on its head.
United, despite being a man down, pressed to forge a way back into the match with Wayne Rooney firing over from eight yards before Diego Lopez produced a string of outstanding saves to deny Michael Carrick, Van Persie and another Vidic header in the last 15 minutes.
At the full-time whistle, United players remonstrated with referee Cakir over his contentious decision but it was all in vein as Madrid ran out winners over the two legs to progress to the quarter-finals.