Two of the world’s best football teams took to the pitch on Tuesday night in England. Real Madrid took on Manchester United in the second leg of their elimination matchup for the right to move on to the quarterfinals. In the first leg, played in Madrid, the two clubs fought to a 1-1 draw.
Two storylines received most of the attention of fans prior to the match. Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese striker and former World Footballer of the Year, was returning to Manchester to play for the first time since he left for Madrid nearly four years ago. In addition, Wayne Rooney was benched by his manager Sir Alex Ferguson for tactical purposes nevertheless, that decision raised many eyebrows amongst fans, players and sports pundits.
The first half was scoreless, but Manchester drew first blood when a cross was inadvertently knocked into the goal by Sergio Ramos for an own goal against Real in the 48th minute of action.
Manchester played the next eight minutes comfortably holding off Real, until minute 56 when Nani the Manchester midfielder was given a straight red card for what the referee called a dangerous play. From that point forward, the complexion of the game changed.
In minute 66, substitute Luka Modric blasted a curling shot from the top of the box to beat United’s goaltender David De Gea to tie the score. Just three minutes later Ronaldo silenced the home crowd when he scored on a Gonzalo Higuain cross.
Manchester was unable to fight back and Real Madrid moved on to the quarterfinals with a 3-2 aggregate win.
Ferguson was so upset about the referee’s red card that he refused to attend the post match press conference. He was described by his assistant coaches as being completely distraught.