Manchester United’s defeat is not just down to Nani’s red

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Manchester United’s dream of clinching a treble was quashed on Tuesday night after Real Madrid sneaked out a 2-1 victory at Old Trafford in the Champions League Round of 16 knockout tie.

The game was poised in favor of the Premier League side with score at 1-1 from the first leg at Bernabeu. The Red Devils, who would have reached the quarter finals had they kept a 0-0 draw even, drew first blood after Sergio Ramos scored an unfortunate own goal.

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Old Trafford was stunned when referee gave Nani his marching orders

From then on, the story was completely different. Here are five major talking points from yesterday’s titanic clash.

Wayne Rooney’s exclusion 

Even before the first whistle was blown, football pundits and fans were drawn into the debate whether Sir Alex Ferguson was right in keeping Wayne Rooney on bench.

The 27-year-old England international, a mega superstar of United, should have been one of the first names in the starting eleven, but in absence of Phil Jones, Ferguson felt otherwise. And his decision is vindicated.

The decision to omit him from starting line-up was purely borne out of tactical need. Danny Welbeck was tasked to perform the dual job of marking Xabi Alonso and at the same time playing the role of a second striker behind Robin van Persie, he did a fantastic job throughout the match. To be honest, was there any better performer than him in the two legged rounds?

Nani’s red card

Till 55th minute, Manchester United were in cruise control of the match then, this happened. It changed the complexion of the game altogether and Madrid with one-man advantage scored twice to seal the tie.

Was that a red card? Nani made a high challenge on Alvaro Arbeloa and referee Cuneyt Cakir stunned the Old Trafford crowd by sending him off.

It was indeed a shocking decision. Nani was not even aware of Arbeloa’s position and it was just an accident more than anything else. There was nothing malicious about it. None of Madrid’s player protested and that says it all.

Missed chances

What could have happened had Van Persie took his chance at Bernabeu? Or for that matter had Welbeck scored in the first half yesterday?

When you’re chasing a treble, some luck is always required. Obviously, the chances would have been few and far between the two evenly contested teams, but had United taken those chances in the first half, probably they would have put the game to bed for good before half time.

Luka Modric

With 1-0 down, even with 11 men, the job was still difficult. In came ex-Tottenham midfielder Luka Modric and added an extra beef in Madrid’s attack which ultimately paved the route to victory.

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Modric came on and stunned Old Trafford even further

These are the platforms, where performances earn respect and faith among the fans. Modric earned a special place among Madrid fans with that wonderful goal and the performance to go with it

Best team lost

Jose Mourinho said after the match that the best team lost out. Without going too much into details of the implications of his statement, are there any doubts in anyone’s mind that United were the better team between the two?

What was fascinating to watch was even after going down to 10 men, they created chances right till the very end.

Manchester United lost to Barcelona in two Champions League finals in 2009 and 2011 where they were outplayed by the Catalan giants, but this is a match they can look back with great pride.

Whether or not they could have given a strong fight with Barcelona is a matter of conjecture, but certainly they did put up a great performance against Real Madrid, a team who defeated Barcelona twice within a week.

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One Response

  1. Sage 6 March, 2013