Real Madrid v. Manchester United: Instant Reaction
By Marc Serber
Real Madrid and Manchester United played to a thrilling 1-1 draw in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match up.
Both sides had glorious chances to snatch the lead after 90 minutes, but in the end, a draw was surely a fair result.
Real Madrid started the brighter of the two titans, carving open the United back line twice within the first two and a half minutes. First Angel Di Maria flashed a shot just wide before Fabio Coentrao forced a spectacular fingertip save from David De Gea.
United, unsurprisingly, were looking to hit on the break and when they did get forward it was with the front four of Robin Van Persie, Danny Welbeck, Shinji Kagawa and Wayne Rooney. Everyone else stayed behind for fear of Real’s ability to hit on the break.
The front four did enough going forward and were able to win the corner from which Welbeck scored in the 20th minute.
Plenty had questioned why Sir Alex Ferguson included Welbeck in the starting XI. Its just another example that SAF seems to know something that the rest of us don’t.
Despite the goal, Madrid continued to dominate through the midfield and in the final third with Rafael in particular being given the run around down the left.
No surprise then that the goal originated from his wing, but how Cristiano Ronaldo hung in the air before burying his header was something to behold.
Madrid continued to dominate possession throughout the first half but United stood resolute and attacked with its front four.
The Mancunians started their forays forward with the long diagonal outlet ball to a player drifting out wide to the far side. Their four designated attackers continued to cause some chaos and win corners meaning both teams still had a chance to snatch the winner as we headed into the final 45.
The second half was more of the same. De Gea made some outrageous saves while RVP hit the crossbar and scuffed a glorious opportunity to steal victory for United.
Sir Alex’s substitutions of Ryan Giggs for Shinji Kagawa and Anderson for Wayne Rooney tells me that the Scot was happy with the draw and the all important away goal.
Nevertheless, everything is perfectly poised for more spectacular theatre on March 5. This time at the one of dreams.