Madrid break United hearts
Cristiano Ronaldo and Rafael (AFP)
Manchester - Cristiano Ronaldo scored the
decisive goal as Real Madrid controversially came from behind to win 2-1 (3-2 aggregate) at Manchester United on Tuesday and reach the Champions League
In a breathless game, Nani forced Sergio Ramos to
put through his own goal in the 48th minute to give United a 2-1
aggregate lead in the last 16 tie, only for the Portuguese winger to
then be sent off for a foul on Alvaro Arbeloa.
seized the initiative, equalising through substitute Luka Modric in the
66th minute and then earning victory through United old boy Ronaldo on
his return to Old Trafford.
VIDEO: Nani's red card
VIDEO: Uefa Champions League: Man Utd v Real Madrid Highlights
United's defeat meant that Ryan Giggs's
1 000th appearance in senior football ended in disappointment, while
Jose Mourinho's Madrid can dream of a 10th European title after
reinvigorating their season in recent weeks.
United manager Alex
Ferguson sprang a major surprise by naming Wayne Rooney on the
substitutes' bench, but Giggs was included in the starting XI as he
became only the third British outield player to play in 1 000 games.
wave of applause for Ronaldo rippled around the ground at kick-off and
the Madrid number seven unexpectedly found himself in direct opposition
to Giggs, who started the match in an unfamiliar role on the right
Giggs roused the home fans with a determined run down the
wing in the 20th minute and from the corner he won, United came within a
hair's breadth of taking the lead.
Nemanja Vidic met Giggs's
in-swinging corner with a typically emphatic header that came back off
the right-hand post and goalkeeper Diego Lopez reacted well to smother
Danny Welbeck's instinctive follow-up.
Ronaldo began to drift away
from the left flank in search of space and in the 28th minute Rio
Ferdinand had to produce a fine block to deny his former team-mate, who
had deftly brought down a lofted pass.
Encouraged, the visitors
then saw Gonzalo Higuain thwarted by United goalkeeper David de Gea,
before Ramos had a goal ruled out for a foul on Robin van Persie.
action swang the other way, with Lopez doing brilliantly to divert a
shot from Welbeck over the bar after he had allowed a stinging effort
from Van Persie to get away from him.
Despite shading the first
half in terms of opportunities, United had nothing to show for their
efforts, but that changed within three minutes of the second period.
Welbeck and Van Persie had both seen shots blocked, Nani picked up the
ball wide on the left and played a low cross into the Madrid six-yard
box that Ramos inadvertently poked into his own net.
The Portuguese celebrated the goal as if he had scored it himself, but moments later, his night was over.
attempting to control a high ball, he caught Arbeloa in the chest with
his studs and was shown a straight red card by referee Cuneyt Cakir,
much to Ferguson's evident displeasure.
United's manager came to
the touchline to rouse the home support but Madrid had the momentum and
Rafael da Silva had to bravely clear a Higuain header from below his own
Van Persie worked Lopez with a low shot, but Madrid were quickly back on the attack and in the 66th minute, they levelled.
had reacted to Nani's dismissal by introducing Modric in place of
Arbeloa and the Croatian had an immediate impact, darting into space and
arrowing a superb 25-yard shot past De Gea via the right-hand upright.
turnaround was complete three minutes later and with poetic
inevitability, it was Ronaldo who put Madrid ahead, touching in
Higuain's low cross-shot and then pointedly apologising to the fans
behind De Gea's goal.
Ferguson turned to Rooney as United went
for broke, but Lopez saved from Michael Carrick and Van Persie in quick
succession before Rooney volleyed over.
Madrid substitute Kaka hit
the post, before Lopez produced another stunning stop from Vidic to
crown a decisive individual display.