Cristiano Ronaldo: Controversy Masks Star's Strong Showing vs. Manchester United

Sam WestmorelandFeatured ColumnistMarch 6, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 05:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid salutes the crowd at the end of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second leg match between Manchester United and Real Madrid at Old Trafford on March 5, 2013 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo is on a roll of late, and the talented winger reminded the world how good he can be with a fantastic showing in Real Madrid's 2-1 Champions League win over Manchester United

Or, at least, he would have, if anyone had been paying attention to that. Unfortunately for the talented winger, there were other, bigger events that masked what was another fantastic performance on the Champions League stage. 

For those of you blissfully unaware of the madness that ensued at Old Trafford on Tuesday night, allow me to take a moment to fill you in. 

In the 56th minute of the match, with United leading 1-0 and seemingly holding the match (and the tie) by the throat, Red Devils winger Nani was handed a red card for a tackle on Alvaro Arbeloa, in a decision that could be called questionable at best, and outright suspicious and egregiously wrong at worst.

Without the speedy, but inconsistent winger, and playing a man down against one of the world's most potent attacks, United turned around and immediately conceded not only an equalizer, but eventually a game and series winner to the Spanish juggernauts. 

Remember when Los Blancos were a team in disarray? Their star player unhappy and sulking, their manager unhappy and lashing out at the media and their star players, and sitting so far behind rivals Barcelona that they could barely see their tail lights up ahead of them? 

Ronaldo's brilliance of late has made that all seem like a distant memory. The 28-year-old megastar has now scored 7 goals in his last 7 matches, adding a pair of assists for good measure. He continues to shine brighter than almost any other player on Earth, and that couldn't have been truer than it was on Tuesday at Old Trafford. 

Sure, the Portuguese international had been held scoreless for most of the match against United, but it was clear from the start that he was looking to find the back of the net. He took 11 shots in the match, the most he'd taken since a January 6 match against Real Sociedad, and was constantly on the attack.

He harried the United defense with his perfectly timed runs and passes that opened them like a can of sardines, particularly in the second half. 

Maybe the sublime winger didn't score until United were already essentially defeated. But anyone who watched the effort he exerted in this match knew that he was doing everything in his power to beat his former club, and many would have been shocked had he ended the match scoreless. 

Madrid may not have deserved to win this match, and the referee may have gifted it to them on a silver platter, but Ronaldo's brilliance against his former club at Old Trafford—and at the Bernabeu, for that matter—cannot be denied.

It's just a shame we're all too angry to truly remember it.