14 February, 2013 - 07:47

Man Utd cling on to a thrilling 1-1 draw at Santiago Bernabeu

Man Utd cling on to a thrilling 1-1 draw at Santiago Bernabeu

Real Madrid were held to a 1-1 draw by Man Utd in a close-fought Champions’ League last-16 first leg match played at Santiago Bernabeu.

Sir Alex Ferguson fielded surprisingly attack-minded squad, with Rooney and Welbeck on the wings supporting Van Persie and Kagawa playing through the middle. Fergie has apparently chosen to sacrifice Rooney’s attacking might to the possibility of playing more industrious Kagawa in a central position. The key idea was to deny free space for Real playmaker Xabi Alonso and press more in key areas of the pitch. The plan worked perfectly well, although Rooney did not look comfortable playing out on the wing.

Pacey striker Danny Welbeck gave the Red Devils the lead with a neat header from Rooney’s corner in the 20th minute of the game. This was the first goal netted by an Englishman at Santiago Bernabeu in almost 12 years, with Leeds United’s Alan Smith being the last man to score in 2001. In-form flamboyant winger Cristiano Ronaldo leveled the scoring with an unbelievable header from Di Maria’s cross in the 30th minute of the game. The Portuguese hung above Evra in the air to nod it in the back of the net. He marked the goal against his former club with the fine muted celebration.

The Red Devils were under constant pressure from Meringues for the whole game, however, they almost scored the winner in the 72nd minute of the game, when Robin van Persie struck the bar, and moments later missed another fantastic opportunity.

Man Utd were struggling at the back with Rafael again and again giving away silly free-kicks. However the calming presence of Rio Ferdinand in the heart of the Red Devils’ defense was among the decisive factors allowing Man Utd to contain fearful Real Madrid wingers Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo. Both players sliced Man Utd’s defense like a knife through butter with the crosses and impressive runs.

However it was the impressive man-of-the-match display of David De Gea between the sticks, which proved an integral element for Mancunians’ success. The young goalkeeper has certainly deserved the plaudits for arguably the best performance in Man Utd’s shirt. He made a string of high-quality saves with the one made with his legs to deny Fabio Coentrao being simply brilliant.

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Author: Basil Naumov

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