Manchester United 1-2 Real Madrid (Madrid progress on 3-2 aggregate)
05 March 2013, Old Trafford, Manchester
Referee: Cüneyt Çakir
Kickoff: 2:45 p.m. ET; 7:45 p.m. GMT
"It doesn't get any bigger than this!" - Sir Alex Ferguson (Uefa.com)
48' Ramos o.g.
Manchester United XI (4-3-2-1): De Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Cleverley, Carrick, Giggs; Welbeck, Nani; van Persie
Real Madrid XI (4-2-3-1): López; Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Varane, Coentrão; Xabi Alonso, Khedira; Di Maria, Ozil, Ronaldo; Higuain
Cristiano Ronaldo scored on his Old Trafford return and Luka Modric also found the back of the net during his first match in England since leaving Tottenham Hotspur, but the story of Real Madrid’s 2-1 triumph over Manchester United in the second leg of their Champions League Round of 16 tie was referee Cüneyt Çakir’s decision to show Nani a controversial red card in the 56th minute.
Nani, who had set up the first goal of the match when his pass into the Madrid goal-mouth was deflected behind Diego Lopez by Sergio Ramos, met Alvaro Arbeloa in the air as the two fought for a high ball, but as he tried to gain possession his leg struck the Madrid right-back and both players fell to the floor.
It would have been harsh for either one of them to have been shown even a yellow card following the incident, so when Çakir issued a straight red to the Portuguese winger the entire stadium fell into a state of shock. Even Madrid manager Jose Mourinho looked embarrassed, and he headed down the tunnel before the final whistle and avoided shaking the referee’s hand.
It took just 10 minutes for Madrid to take advantage of their numerical advantage. Modric, who had replaced Arbeloa just before the hour-mark, cut onto his right foot near the edge of the United box and curled a delightful ball just inside goalkeeper David De Gea’s left post.
Three minutes later Ronaldo had put the guests ahead in both the match and the tie—Gonzalo Higuain finding the Portugal captain at the far post for his 40th goal of the season following a clever flick by Mezut Ozil.
United attempted to fight back from the deficit and were admirable in their attempt, although Diego Lopez came up big when needed and saved the result for Madrid
But even his performance, and those of Danny Welbeck and Ryan Giggs, will be lost because of a decision from the referee that spoiled everything that had taken place and was to follow. Madrid are through to the next round, but even they’ll acknowledge their good fortune in getting there.