Having drawn 1-1 in the first leg of this match, it was finally time for these two squad, undoubtedly giants in their respective leagues, to meet again for the decider. Playing in Manchester (and more specifically at Old Trafford) is never easy for any club, regardless of how well they’re doing elsewhere. It is the arena in which such giants are tested and tested well.
Both Manchester United and Real Madrid went into this game at the back of some very encouraging wins from their respective domestic leagues; probably the more confident were Real Madrid, having beaten Barcelona twice in one week! Not that defeating Norwich City by four goals was easy for Manchester United either, but I don’t think it would be realistic to place Norwich City and Barcelona on the same level, in as much as they’re not a weak team!
So, I think that it’s only fair to say that Real Madrid were, perhaps, readier for the Manchester Giants! United, however, had playing at home as an advantage, and a huge one as they were leading on away goals.
The first half was more or less dominated by Real Madrid on possession, although Manchester United had, by far, better chances. Diego Lopez received some decently tricky strikes, but he somehow just managed to survive; he was certainly the busier one of the goalkeepers in the first half.
Real Madrid had complete control of the game in the first few minutes, but whenever their hosts had a chance to break, they put their very strong defense to the test, and when all else failed, Diego Lopez, was there to make the save. Iker Casillas, perhaps, wasn’t a crucial one in this match up to this point.
Danny Welbeck was probably the man of the half on the Manchester United side for his effectiveness in front of goal. Cristiano Ronaldo was man-marked for most of the first half, although he continued to shine and try to create chances as always.
The man of the half on the Real Madrid side for me was Diego Lopez, because he managed to save his side more than one time from going down. Although he made some bad mistakes, he made sure to correct them later on. To the delight of many fans, Kaka had to come on right before the half for an injured Angel Di Maria, but the Madrid game didn’t change so much from how it had been until then.
The second half, for the most part, was more or less a Real Madrid game. They had more possession, better chances, and were definitely quicker. Manchester United took the lead early in the second half when Sergio Ramos scored an own-goal. It seems that all it took was a little wake-up call (in the form of a goal) for Madrid to turn things around.
Los Blancos seemed to have gotten back after a controversial decision by referee Cüneyt Çakır to send Nani off for a bad challenge on Arbeloa; a decision that wasn’t well received by Sir Alex and his camp. The home side’s lead became short-lived when the first Madrid away goal came almost 10 minutes later after Luka Modric (who had come on for Arbeloa) scored a magnificent goal for his side.
Things were, at this point, now looking up for the visitors, who seemed to own the pitch right after this goal. Just 3 minutes later, Cristiano Ronaldo added another one to just about seal things off.
For about the final 20 minutes of the game, Real Madrid were the more comfortable side, challenging to add to their tally and only being prevented by a strong United defense led by Rafael (as well as the woodwork). Real Madrid were just not satisfied!
At 10 minutes before full-time, Manchester United took off Welbeck (who had been absolutely brilliant) for Ashley Young in an attempt to make a miracle happened and win the game. Unfortunately for them, a strong Diego Lopez was still hanging on for his side right until the final whistle.
Statistic-wise, Real Madrid had overall more possession (61% against their hosts’ 39%). Manchester United had a total of 18 attempts against Real Madrid’s 21. The Red Devils had the better chances overall. 5 yellow cards were issued between the two teams; 2 to the hosts and 3 to the visitors. Luis Nani was the only player to be sent off during this match.
Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho lined up the following squads:
Manchester United Starting XI:
De Gea, Evra, Ferdinand, Vidic (c), Giggs, Carrick, Rafael, Welbeck, Nani, Van Persie, Cleverley
Subs: Lindegaard, Evans, Kagawa, Rooney, Chicharito, Young, and Valencia
Real Madrid Starting XI:
Diego Lopez, Varane, Sergio Ramos (c), Coentrao, Ozil, Khedira, Xabi Alonso, Di Maria, Arbeloa, Ronaldo, Higuain
Subs: Adan, Albiol, Callejon, Benzema, Modric, Pepe, and Kaka
Final Score: Manchester United 1-2 Real Madrid (Agg: 2-3)
Sergio Ramos (OG) 48′; Modric 66′, Ronaldo 69′
Having eliminated Manchester United, Real Madrid are now through to the Quarter Finals of the UEFA Champions League. Their opponents will be announced following the drawing set to be held on 15 March in Nyon.
Written by Ange Marline