Red card destroys Red Devils; Real beat Man Utd

Real go through at Old Trafford 3-2 on aggregate

Jose Mourinho, after the game: Irrespective of the [red card] decision, the best team lost. We played badly.

The commentators and experts are calling it the worst refereeing decision possibly in the modern history of the Uefa Champions League.

Click to see gallery:  Angry Ferguson, happy Ronaldo & ecstatic Mourinho

The rules however state Nani's was a dangerous tackle was a Red Card.

Real Madrid took full advantage and in ten minutes scored two goals and took the tie away from United, who until then were dominating and in the lead.
Jose Mourinho seem embarassed by the decision and spoke to Sir Alex at least three or four times before he quietly walked away even before the game ended.

Modric scored a superb goal worthy of an equaliser. The second from Ronaldo came off a classy move as well.
Nothing luck about the goals, but were it not for the Red Card...

United's dreams of a 1999 Treble repeat are over.
Chelsea and Manchester City need to watch out now.
In the end, Real Madrid 2 Manchester United 1 at Old Trafford, Real win 3-2 on aggregate.

Game over: Real win, Man Utd out

Goals
Sergio Ramos (og) 48'
Luka Modric 66'
Cristiano Ronaldo 69'

91": United win a corner. Vidic makes bullet header, but great save from Lopez the goalkeeper

89": Lopez injured.

88": Kaka hits the post. De Gea manages to grab it off the rebound.

87": Valencia on for Rafael.

84:" Rooney and Van Persie both miss great chances. Van Persie one on one with the keeper cant beat him. Rooney can't keep his volley down either, that too from 8 yards out.

82:" Carrick header saved off the line from Real keeper Lopez.

81": Ashley Young on for Danny Wellbeck.

78": Real let United have the ball now and look to hit them on the counter. It looks nigh on impossible, even with Rooney on.

72": Cleverley off, Rooney on. Do or die for Man Utd.

70": Ronaldo scores after a clasy move from the right with Higuain crossing. This game is all but now over. Man Utd have to score two now to go through.

66": Modric scores for Real with a scorcher or a curler from outside the 'D' it hits the post and beats De Gea to go in.

65": Giggs now turns to the crowd for a lift. Old Trafford under siege. Noise deafening. Can United hold on?

62": Sir Alex turns to the crowd and asks them to be the extra man for United now. Madrid needed something to get into the game and that Red Card may have been it.
Great goal-line save from Rafael as Madrid come in swarms now.
It is 10 of United against the XI of Real.

56": Nani goes with his studs high with Arbeloa, however, looking only at the ball. Referee shows him red in what commentators are calling a shocking decision,

54": Real response now. Dominating possession, as United cannot get hold of the ball. Red Devlis need to hold on now.

49:" Danny Wellbeck at the heart of the goal. He starts it off, Van Persie's shot gets deflected. Nani picks it up and crossess. Wellbeck gets a touch onto Ramos's foot and the ball deflects into the net for an own goal. Man Utd 1 Real 0.

47": Real look much more intent. 45 minutes of football pressure like you will not believe.

Half time

That first half belonged to Manchester United and Danny Wellbeck. Were it not for Rafael Varane and Lopez the keeper, Madrid would be out of this tie.
United have played the game at such a pace that, believe it or not, Real have not been able to keep up. Not even the fastest footballer alive – Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo we know, only needs one chance. He has not yet got it, save for a half chance in that half.
Worrying for United is Van Persie and his miss-hitting volleys. He needs to connect.

But Wellbeck has put on a show and justifies his selection ahead of Rooney.
Nani has not done too badly either.

The second half is on a knife-edge. One goal will open up this game. Vidic hit the post with the header.
Real have 63% of the possession but still look least likely to score.

We will be back with crazy second half.

44": Di Maria off, Kaka on. Ronaldo takes a shot from outside. High and wide.

40": Yellow card for Arbeloa. Some great defensive work from Giggs sees him find Wellbeck again. Angel Di Maria injured.

37": Some slick passing from United sees them move the ball from back to front and puts Rafael one on one with the Real defender Ramos who seems to push Rafael. Penalty shout is denied.

34": Van Persie sends a stinging shot which the Real keeper Lopez can't hold. Wellbeck has the rebound which Lopez saves. Vidic clashes with the keeper from the corner and gets injured.

33": Real beginning to find some space on the wings. A through ball finds Higuain after he makes a great run. De Gea gets in the way. From the corner, Ramos gets called for a foul as Higuain puts the ball in the net. Real in the game now.

29": A lovely ball from Ozil over the top find Ronaldo in the United 'D'. United were caught out but manage to block the shot. United then counter with lightening pace only for Van Persie to miss out again.

25": Van Persie holds the ball up wonderfully, gives a classy pass to Wellbeck who runs at the defence. Van Persie tries another spectacular over the shoulder volley from the resulting corner and misses (again). It's all United right now.

20": A crazy miss as Vidic's header reboudnds off the post, Wellbeck gets the rebound but Real goalkeeper saves on the line.

18": Wellbeck and Nani spark a lovely move on the left wing. Good defence from Real cuts out the cross from Nani. Corner comes to nothing. Yellow card for Evra as he grabs Di Maria on the counter attack.

15": A through ball finds Wellbeck who holds up the ball plays it back and a cross finds Van Persie who miss-hits his volley (again). Opened up for United there. Van Persie needs to find his touch.

13": First corner for United, nothing comes of it.

11": Higuain tries a curler from edge of the area. First shot on goal.

10": Cleverley shuts Ronaldo down, gets injured but will continue.

7": Corner for |Real, wasted.

6": Man Utd's early tactics are get the ball high and over the Real back four for Wellbeck and Van Persie to run for. Hasn't yet come off.

3": Giggs give away dangerous freekick. Ronaldo hits the wall. Then gives away a free throw.

2": Nani on the left, Giggs on the right.

0": United to defend the Stretford End. Massive ovation for Ryan Giggs.

0": A minuted to kick-off now. Teams lined up. Atmosphere electric. Stay tuned. Expert view: Real Madrid to win.

Why Rooney

Fergie’s pre-match explanation to bench Rooney is even more surprising than his decision to bench him. “Rooney was not defending well enough.”

Needless to say, the experts are now even more stunned.  What is Sir Alex Ferguson doing?

The TV pundits are shocked to say the least. Graeme Souness on Al Jazeera is doing his best not to say that Sir Alex has made the stupidest decision of his life. He clearly believes that Rooney on the bench is a suicide move and Nani will not be up to the task.

Michael Owen is also doing his best to look ‘not surprised’ speaking about Sir Alex’s attacking mentality.

The team sheet put out by the English press has Wayne Rooney on the bench and Nani playing.

Defence
David De Gea; Rafael; Rio Ferdinand;  Nemanja Vidic;  Patrice Evra

Midfield
Michael Carrick;  Tom Cleverley; Nani;  Danny Welbeck; Ryan Giggs

Attack
Robin Van Persie

A Spanish sporting site has released the Real Madrid starting XI for tonight. Karim Benzema does not start, Higuain does.

Starting XI Real Madrid: D. Lopez, Arbeloa, Varane, Ramos, Coentrao, Xabi, Khedira, Di Maria, Oezil, Ronaldo, Higuain (Courtesy: http://sport.detik.com/)

So, Sir Alex has thrown the craziest of all moves. Nani plays, Rooney on the bench.
A packed midfield will look to throttle the movement of Ozil and Di Maria. Nani and Wellbeck will fly down the wings on the counter. Ryan Giggs in his 1000th game with Carrick will hold and distribute. Tom Cleverley vs Cristiano Ronaldo.

Has Sir Alex gambled too much here?
Rio and Vidic in defence, with Rafael and Evra, now that looks strong. Either a brilliant move or a crazy risk from Fergie.
Mourinho must like Rooney on the bench. Will Nani track back? This United line-up asks too many questions with not enough answers.
 

Rooney warns of Real 'Others'

Wayne Rooney, speaking to United Review the Manchester United club magazine has echoed Sir Alex’s sentiments in how to beat Real Madrid.
Don’t focus on Ronaldo. Don’t think of him as an ex-Man United player. And, beware of the others.

"But we have to look at Ronaldo as a Real Madrid player, not an ex-United one. We need to stop him and make sure it's us going through to the quarter-finals."
"If you focus too much on Cristiano you might lose track of the other players and you can't afford to do that," Rooney told United Review.

"You could put all your focus on Cristiano, but then [Mesut] Ozil might pop up or [Karim] Benzema will.
"Then you've got [Angel] Di Maria, who likes to come inside a lot. These players are capable of hurting you.
"We therefore have to make sure we defend right across the back line rather than just to one side."

"You've got probably the two biggest clubs worldwide going head to head. These are special nights and ones you want to enjoy.
"You just hope you can express yourself and help the team win."

Owen picks the Red Devils

As England country and club stars and legends get off the fence and pick their sides, Michael Owen has come out for the Red Devils

The current Stoke and former United, Newcastle, Liverpool, Real Madrid star tweeted: Seems like everyone is split. I picked Man Utd prior to the first leg so I'm just siding with them.

Blackburn, Newcastle legend Alan Shearer in his column for The Sun picked Real, as did Arsenal’s Ian Wright (see video below).

What do you think? Go to the emirates247.com Facebook page and vote.
 

Real Madrid stat favourites

154 shots in Champions League games this season - at least 18 more than any other side in the competition

Real Madrid, Atletico, Barcelona - top 3 in La Liga - only teams unbeaten at home this season of all 98 sides in the top 5 leagues

Real Madrid have lost only 3 of their last 32 Champions League matches. (Stats courtesy WhoScored.com)
 

Arsenal legend on who will win

Rafael vs Ronaldo

This is why Fergie believes Manchester United must not obsess themselves with trying to stop Ronaldo tonight.
Asked if he was concerned about Madrid's number seven drawing inspiration from the reception he receives at Old Trafford, the United manager quipped: "The biggest concern is if he turns up!

"You know what to expect against a team with Ronaldo in and we have to try and curtail that. It won't be easy because he does it every week. It's not an accident with the lad.
"The experience Rafael (da Silva) had in the first leg will hopefully help him because he'll be given the same task again.
"We can't go in worrying about the damage he might do to us, because we might forget about the damage we can do ourselves."

Ronaldo’s record

Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo controls a ball during a training session at the Etihad stadium in Manchester on the eve of their second leg of the Champions League last 16 match against Manchester United.(AFP)

Ronaldo spent six seasons with United after signing from Sporting Lisbon, scoring 117 goals in 290 games and blossoming into one of the finest players in world football before leaving to join Madrid in the 2009 close-season.

Since arriving in the Spanish capital he has become even more prolific, finding the net 185 times in 184 games, but Ferguson says the second leg of the Champions League last 16 tie will not be decided by Ronaldo alone.

No mercy from Ronaldo

Ronaldo admits he is excited about returning to his former stomping ground.
Writing on his Instagram account, he said: "I'm looking forward to return to Old Trafford. I've so many good memories there. It will be an exciting game and our goal is to win."

Remember this Ronaldo

It is 10 years since another famous Ronaldo, the great Brazilian striker, came to Old Trafford with Real Madrid and produced a performance that condemned United to elimination from the Champions League.
The two-time Ballon d'Or-winner netted a hat-trick in a 4-3 second-leg defeat that took Madrid into the semi-finals in 2003 and was afforded the rare privilege of a standing ovation from United's fans.

The Special One

Jose Mourinho normally tells it like it is. And in his, rarely humble opinion, the whole world will be watching.

We begin the countdown to this Champions League season’s biggest game (save for Barca and Man Utd meeting in the finals) – Manchester United versus Real Madrid.
Which really is, as the game breaks down – Sir Alex Ferguson versus Jose Mourinho. Cristiano Ronaldo versus Robin van Persie. Wayne Rooney versus Mesuit Ozil. And the list goes on.

The line-ups will be key. Phil Jones not playing is going to be put down as a blow to the Red Devils, because the next question really is: Who will shut Ronaldo down?
Jones pretty much did that in the first leg which United drew 1-1 away at Madrid. Jones shut him down and still, Ronaldo scored.

Madrid manager Jose Mourinho praised his countryman for his achievements in English football, which included victory with United in the Champions League and individual success in the Ballon d'Or voting in 2008.
"Any accolades he gets are more than deserved and the reception he gets tomorrow night will be well deserved," he said.
"I was here when he was playing in the Premier League and I'm aware of how well he did and what an impact he had at the club."
 

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