Game in a sentence

A contentious match as Real Madrid beat a ten-man Manchester United 1-2 to progress to the quarterfinals.


  • The clash called ‘the match of the year’, the one Mourinho said would cause the world to come to a standstill, was transformed into a disappointing Champions League last 16 second leg thanks to a terrible refereeing call.
  • It was a superb game until 22 players were reduced to 21.
  • The biggest surprise before the match (before the red card) was Alex Ferguson’s decision to omit Wayne Rooney from the starting XI. Shinji Kagawa, who had a marvelous hat-trick against Norwich City over the weekend, was also expected by many to start. But instead SAF went with Ryan Giggs on the right and Nani on the left, with Danny Welbeck playing right behind Robin Van Persie.
  • This was of course Giggs 1000th appearance. Congratulations!
  • As for Real Madrid there was nothing surprising in their lineup. The only main change was to play Gonzalo Higuain instead of Karim Benzema up front.
  • United played a much more defensive game, but it proved effective. While Madrid had more possession, it was the English side that created the better chances in the first half.
  • Welbeck was a threat all night. He made several deep runs into the opponent’s penalty box and was causing many problems for Madrid’s back four.
  • United also did an excellent job at containing Ronaldo. With Rafael the main man in charge of curbing CR7’s advances. Giggs also helped the right back in that duty and silenced many of his critics, who were expecting the 39 year old to come on as sub.
  • Madrid had the first chance in the 11th minute, but Higuain’s shot went wide. Three minutes later, the Red Devils surged forward to set up RVP, but Welbeck’s slide to Nani was cleared by Coentrao.
  • The Spanish side lacked the dominance and influence we had witnessed earlier against Barcelona. Xabi Alonso was having a quiet night and Sami Khedira wasn’t as impactful as he would have liked.
  • Throughout the game, Madrid were conceding way too many corners. They got lucky when Nemanja Vidic’s header from Giggs’ corner hit the lower end of the goal post in the 20th minute.
  • After the Vidic chance, United were really starting to come out of their shell and pushing forward.
  • Attempts were pretty even in the first 45 minutes, but with Madrid creating the lesser of the chances. It was a well paced game with both sides alternating spells of attack, but United were the slightly better team in the first half.
  • Despite worries over United’s defence, SAF demonstrated his team’s ability to adjust. Knowing the Spanish side is deadly on counterattacks, the Red Devils employed an extremely balanced game, both offensively and defensively. They were blocking shots and cutting back the space for Madrid to operate, especially for CR7.
  • It was a fairly decent match until the start of the second half.  Manchester United started on a wonderful footing, but dark clouds were only a few minutes away from hovering over Old Trafford.
  • United took the lead thanks to a mistake by Sergio Ramos in the 48th minute. The goal began with a forward push by Rafael. After both RVP and Welbeck’s attempts failed, Nani managed to keep the ball inside Madrid’s third of the pitch. His ensuing cross must have confused Ramos for the defender pulled out his leg and scored an own goal.
  • But the celebration was cut short when the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir pulled a red card on Nani (who was having a great game) for a boot to the chest on Alvaro Arbeloa. It was a shocking decision, way too harsh for an unintentional high kick. A yellow would have likely sufficed.
  • Meanwhile, Fergie was steaming with anger (and rightly so). Unable to reverse the decision of course, he rushed to the stands and excited the supporters. From Twitter to the fans inside the stadium, everyone appeared livid.
  • Unfortunately, the booking changed the outcome of the game. Although Madrid were starting to increase their incursions prior to the red, with the man advantage their pressing only intensified.
  • Luka Modric, who replaced Arbeloa in the 59th minute, drilled in a stunning goal from roughly 25 yards to equalize. Three minutes later, CR7 secured the lead with the help of Higuain. Ronaldo was respectful enough not to celebrate of course, but at this point the fans didn’t seem to care.
  • Rooney eventually came on, but this game was pretty much a wrap by then. The Los Blancos seemed comfortable with the lead and sat back for the rest of the match.
  • But despite being down a player, United fought like warriors. They even came awfully close in the 79th minute to tie the game, but Welbeck’s shot was blocked by Ramos.
  • United had a few more opportunities in the 82nd and 83rd minutes, but Diego Lopez was both times in a great position to make the save. For those fleeting moments it seemed United could possibly pull off one of the biggest upsets in football and humiliate the Spanish side, but the chances never solidified into anything.
  • While this match was supposed to be the ‘match of the year’ it’ll go down as one of the most controversial games in Champions League history thanks to a poor call.
  • Even Mourinho spoke in uncharacteristically candid fashion after the match:”The best team lost. We didn’t play very well tonight.”
  • We’ll never know if Madrid could have pulled off the win had it not been for the red card,  but their performance had luck written all over it today.

Three Stars

Danny Welbeck
Diego Lopez
Nemanja Vidic

Comments (32)

  1. siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh life must go on….gutted; GOOOOOO LEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAFSSSS GOOOOOOOOOO!

  2. United played really well and I am proud of the team. It is indeed unfortunate that the tie was altered by a poor decision by the referee. United could have probably done better defending the lead with 10 men but with all the attacking talent Real Madrid have and the space they would get with facing 10 men, keeping them out would have been tough for any team.

    I am curious to see all of these changes people say SAF should have made after going down to 10 men. Throw on another defender and park the bus? I don’t think that would have worked either. With Welbeck having to go out to the wing after the sending off, Alonso and Modric got more time to dictate play. I don’t know what changes could be made to stop that with 10 men.

  3. Most biased article ever. Takes all credit from a team that capitalized when they needed to. At the end of the day, they won the match.

    • Nobody is taking anything away from the world-class strike of Luca Modric, or the great vision of Higuain. What is disturbing is that shocking refereeing decision robbed EVERYONE of a game of the year candidate and it was immediately obvious to everyone that isn’t named Cüneyt Çakır. Unacceptable.

  4. Man U wasn’t robbed. We were all robbed of a great second half after what had been a great first half.

    • Amen to that. Mourinho and Ronaldo didn’t even look happy with the win.

      • they didnt look satisfied because both said before the mach they would not celebrate for a goal or a win mourinho has to much respect for SAF and ronny has to much respect for man u and the fans..

        • Oh yeah, I’m sure Jose’s presser would’ve had the words “the better team lost” had Nani not been sent off and Real still won…

  5. What a bunch of pro ManU whining. It was a reckless play by Nani lunging for the ball with his boot that high. Players have seen a straight red for the same play many times before.

    Blame Nani for making a stupid play and putting the ref in the position to make that decision.

    • Vincent Kompany tweeted it wasn’t a red. Niall Quinn said on live television several times that it wasn’t a red. So don’t sit there and tell me it’s just a bunch of “pro ManU whining”. If Arbeloa was already there when Nani decided to put his foot up that high, then I would agree with you. But Nani was already going up to control the ball before Arbeloa came out of nowhere to try and control it as well. Nani did not see him until it was too late. It wasn’t a “stupid play”, it was a legitimate attempt at controlling the ball while it was in the air.

      • Thought Quinn’s commentary was over the top.

      • If you’re smart you don’t give the ref an excuse to send you off. Nani gave him an excuse. That he wasn’t aware another player was near him begs the question – why wasn’t he aware? Mo’s disingenuous BS comments after the game – only a fool takes those at face value.

        Anyway – journalism or ManU Fan Blog? Hard to tell the difference today. Raise your standards, boys. This output is borderline embarrassing.

        • It’s a blog. Actually used to be called the Footy Blog I think. Aren’t op eds part of journalism?

    • No surprise at all the pro ManUer whining going on…. Too many football fans are on the Manc scum bandwagon in this country….. this is a great result for karma! The football Gods do exist and their also sick and tried of the purple c**t Ferguson.

      • You follow a real club right?

      • From a neutral perspective, it was a harsh call. Worthy probably of a yellow card. The red turned the game into something less interesting.

        The challenge itself wasn’t quite as reckless as it maybe appeared to the ref in real time. Both players rushed in, but Nani with his foot up. That’s almost always going to get called. Those are the breaks & Madrid scored some great goals.

        BTW, aren’t most supporters of huge European clubs on the bandwagon?

  6. Yeah, and Roy Keane said it was the right call. I’ll take Keano’s opinion over that muppet Quinn any day of the week. Also, it doesn’t matter whether Nani saw him or not. It’s irrelevant to the dangerous play ruling.

    “Only losers blame it on the ref”, I have been told many times by ManU fans. Sounds true to me,

    • you are clearly a turkish ref

    • Keane is a bit of a twat when it comes to United. He seems to enjoy it when United are on the wrong end of a controversial decision. He is probably still bitter about SAF getting rid years ago.

      And Quinn, while a bit over the top, just said that he thought United had been hard done by, which was hardly outlandish.

      • Nial Quinn is a frickin homer of the highest order. Did you note his “Yes” shout after the Man U goal? He’s pathetic.

        Regarding the red card, the rules are the rules. There was not malice on Nani’s part, but that is irrelevant as the foot should not be at that height…..dangerous play. I’m confident that outrage of many commentators on this site and others would be signifcantly less if the same refereeing decision went against another club, e.g., Borussia Dortmund or a FC Porto, as opposed to the much cherished Manchester United. I haven’t shed a tear.

        Manchester United supporters complaining about the referee is particularly rich………….just ask most supporters of other EPL clubs.

        • Yep, can’t complain about a decision because of what may or may not have happened in a completely different game. I bet that is the mindset you take when your team is on the wrong side of a bad call.

          I can’t call Quinn a homer when it comes to United considering who he played for.

  7. Very happy to see Welbeck acknowledged played two stellar games against one of the best teams in the world and showed that even with rvp and rooney he can shine. But with all that being said manu lost the match because of the red card and also because of their inability to capitalize on their chances all those chances and pressure and they have an own goal to show for it? They could of put the game away in the first half. And I’m an Inter Milan fan before anyone says anything. I wish we could of seen a full game without any controversy but that’s football. I really think that when making a call like that all the refs should huddle and really think rather than spontaneously giving out a card. People might say it slows down the game but a 2 min conference on the field during a 90min game won’t matter fans are gonna be there for almost two hours and I’m sure everyone would be more than happy to wait the extra two mins for the right to call. BTW great Blog guys I listen to every podcast same with the footy show podcasts you guys know your stuff and should be recognized more for your work. Cheers

  8. It still boggles my mind that a SAF – a man that was knighted – can act like an entitled cunt when things don’t go his way.

    Nani made a pooh decision. Pooh Nani, pooh nani…

    • If Sir Al was a “real” knight, he would have drawn his sword and enacted revenge. You on the otherhand, appear to be pleased with watching manu lose. A true football fan will feel robbed of what may have an excellent match. You, also in my quick character asessment, would most likely quit the game if it happened to you in an online game of FIFA.

      • If SAF was a real knight, he would act with class and honour in defeat. Angry cunt mode seems to be his modus operandi when shit goes pear shaped.

        As a fan of football and as a neutral watching this match, I was disappointed that both teams couldn’t lose.

  9. Red cards ARE PART OF FOOTBALL! Man U will not be the first and certainly the last to have a player see a red card. Teams adjust all the time when they receive red cards. A leg that high deserves a red card! it doesn’t matter who commit it or who received it.

  10. Justified red or not, its how you deal with adversity that marks out champions. Man U immediately collectively went to pieces and got over emotional from the manager down. They lost concentration and conceded goals. Spurring the crowd on in that moment heightened the sense of panic and Madrid seized their opportunity.

  11. Pretty poor article, don’t know how this person is a professional sport journalist on such a top sports company. As a Madrid fan I feel for United, but as a person who knows the game, played the game and watches the game, you can’t be mad if a player puts his foot at head level and gets a red. I don’t think it should have been a red but I also don’t think it couldn’t have been a red. Whenever an English team gets “screwed” it’s always hotly talked about because a lot of English commentators and fans are very biased. I prefer watching games in other languages even though I don’t understand because the English whine and complain any time there team doesn’t win.

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