In a marquee matchup in the knockout round of the UEFA European Championships, Real Madrid beat Manchester United 2-1 to take the aggregate victory 3-2 in the home-and-home series. Real Madrid overcame the unfriendly confines of Old Trafford and even spotted Man U an own goal, but in the end it was the performance of Cüneyt Çakir that sealed the win for the Spaniards. Referee Çakir gave Man U’s Nani a highly questionable red card in the 56th minute, thereby reducing the Red Devils to ten players on the pitch for the imbalance of the game. Nani and Àlvaro Arbeloa were going after a 50-50 ball and Nani’s raised boot was deemed by the Turkish referee to be far more than anyone else deemed objectionable. The penalty put Manchester United down a man, which destroyed their ability to maintain their one-goal lead. Real Madrid seized control of the game and started a barrage on goalkeeper David De Gea who was unable to withstand the onslaught. Luka Mödric came into the game and scored in the 66th minute on a brilliant strike from just inside the box to knot the game up at one all, 2-2 on aggregate. Just 3 minutes later Cristiano Ronaldo would score his second goal of the leg and ice it for Real Madrid who now leads his team into the quarterfinals.
From the outset of the match Manchester United was the better team. Real Madrid’s coach, Jose Mourinho admitted that “the better team did not win today” is his post-game interview.
Man U was winning field position and was comfortably in control of their own destiny at the half. It was Wlesh Footballer Ryan Giggs’ 1,000th match and Wayne Rooney wouldn’t start, he eventually come into the game and filled in for Tom Cleverly, but you could clearly see the determination on Sir Alex Ferguson’s face towards the defensive side of the ball. Real Madrid goaltender Diego Lopez did have some nice moves in net, but the win went to the ref, for whom Manchester United players mockingly clapped following the game. Sir Alex Ferguson was none too pleased as he was seen screaming while exiting Old Trattford.
The refs won this game for the Spaniards and there’s nothing more to say. Real Madrid did what good teams do, they capitalized on their opportunity and seized the match.. The game was over once Çakir pulled his red card out and the commentators smelled foul. The call deserved a free kick or perhaps a yellow, but to shift the balance of power that quickly when the match was so even up until that point was totally wrong. This really marks the end of Manchester United’s season – which has been all but wrapped up atop the EPL – now that they’ve been eliminated from UEFA Championship play.
I pity Chelsea, who this weekend have the ill-fortune of facing a very pissed off Red Devils team in an FA Cup match in Old Trafford.