Real Madrid came into Old Trafford, and walked out with a 2-1 victory courtesy of a astonishing goal by Luka Modric, and a routine winning goal from United’s former hitman, Cristiano Ronaldo, to advance to the Champions League’s quarterfinals stage though Manchester opened the scoring via an own goal by Real’s Sergio Ramos.
This was a game that won’t be remembered for spectacular goals and intriguing tactics by both managers, it will be remembered for a call made by Turkish referee Cuynet Cakir, who sent off Manchester’s Nani early in the second half for a charge, studs high, into the midsection of Madrid’s Alvaro Arbeloa.
Both managers expressed regret that the game did not play out with both teams full complement of players. With Madrid manager Jose Mourinho saying, “[United] were playing very well, they were aggressive and they were compact, I am not speaking about the decision as I am not sure of it. I do think the best team lost.”
The fact is that the decision distracted from what was a riveting match, filled with some awe-inspiring play. Luka Modric’s goal, a brilliant shot off the post, past a sprawling David de Gea. While United’s goal came after a blistering spell of pressure that forced two stops from a frazzled Madrid keeper Diego Lopez.
Some recognition, however, should go to Modric. Coming on in the second half replacing Arbeloa immediately turned Real into a threat combined with Kaka replacing the injured Angel di Maria. Gonzalo Higuain was used to fine effect to pry United’s back line apart with Mesut Ozil, working off Modric, proved to be too slick for United to handle.