Real Madrid 1-1 Man Utd: 5 Huge Plays That Decided the Outcome
Manchester United depart Madrid with a crucial away goal and a 1-1 scoreline after their UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg.
The match was just as eventful as we'd hoped, and here are five notable moments that decided how it would end.
Plenty for Los Blancos to rue, plenty for the Red Devils to look back on fondly.
Fabio Coentrao Strikes the Post
Before the game, I spoke to B/R's Will Tidey via e-mail about how this game would pan out.
Tidey stressed his belief that as long as Manchester United could avoid conceding during an adrenaline-fueled, high-octane first 20 minutes, Sir Alex Ferguson's side had a chance.
When Fabio Coentrao cut inside and bent a right-footed shot around the outstretched palm of David de Gea in the fifth minute, all looked lost.
However, luck favoured the Red Devils. The shot struck the inside of the post and somehow stayed out, allowing Rafael to attempt a scuffed clearance.
This was a huge moment in the game and it helped swing a small amount of momentum United's way.
Danny Welbeck's Opener
After Fabio Coentrao hit the post, the pressure kept coming.
Cristiano Ronaldo had the better of Rafael, and Angel Di Maria of Patrice Evra. The fabled opening 20 minutes were coming to a close...and finally the defence relented.
However, it wasn't the Manchester United defence.
Wayne Rooney's inswinging corner was perfect, drawing Diego Lopez out of his goal under false pretenses. Danny Welbeck separated himself expertly from his marker to nod home, and all of a sudden the Santiago Bernabeu groaned.
David De Gea's 1 Million Stops
When do you know that the opposition's goalkeeper is bang in form?
Is it the numerous saves he makes to deny you from distance? Is it stopping Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuain, Xabi Alonso and Angel Di Maria at every opportunity?
Or is it this outrageous reflex save?
Some have suggested it's Matrix-esque. Some may be right.
Was That a Foul and a Red Card?
Some wonderful one-touch, give-and-go football in the second half saw Manchester United release Patrice Evra through on goal.
His surging run allowed him to work up a head of steam and rinse Raphael Varane—the last defender—for pace.
What followed was confusion.
As Evra fell, two factions called for two different rulings. Madridistas suggested Evra dived or fell. Red Devils fans screamed foul and red card.
It's the kind of thing you need to see 100 times in slow motion, but Varane definitely has a handful of Evra's shirt as he glides past him.
The general consensus is that Varane is a lucky, lucky boy.
Robin van Persie's Scuffed Volley
With Manchester United enjoying a rare spell of pressure, Real Madrid were falling over themselves to clear the ball.
It was hooked back in, and Robin van Persie beat the offside trap to give himself yards of space to operate. He brings it under control...and scuffs a left-footed volley.
If there was one man United fans would have wanted that chance to fall to, it would be their Dutch hero. How big a miss could that be? Only time will tell, but for now we can say a 2-1 win at the Santiago Bernabeu would have had Sir Alex Ferguson jumping for joy.