(PhatzRadio / CBC Sports) — Just like 10 years ago, a Ronaldo scored at Old Trafford to send Real Madrid through in the Champions League and eliminate Manchester United.
Back then it was the Brazilian Ronaldo, who scored a memorable hat trick.
This time it was Cristiano Ronaldo, back at United for the first time since leaving four years ago, who was on the score sheet. And the Portugal forward opted not to celebrate the goal that clinched a 2-1 victory Tuesday for the nine-time champions and a place in the quarterfinals for the third season running.
“I am happy inside because Madrid got through,” Ronaldo said after the 3-2 aggregate win. “But on the other hand I feel a little bit sad because of Manchester United.”
But the game swung back in Madrid’s favour in the 56th minute when Nani was sent off for a studs-up, flying challenge on Alvaro Arbeloa.
The goal devastated the home fans who had cheered Ronaldo before his first match at Old Trafford since swapping Manchester for Madrid for a world record 80 million pounds (then $131 million) in 2009.
“Mentally it was not easy for Ronaldo,” Madrid manager Jose Mourinho said.
But a night that started with affection for Ronaldo and a 1,000th appearance for United’s Ryan Giggs, ended in acrimony from the hosts aggrieved by the red card.
At the final whistle, Giggs was angrily pointing at referee Cuneyt Cakir as Rio Ferdinand sarcastically clapped in his face, and manager Alex Ferguson made his fury clear on the touchline.
It was a defeat that was hard to take for United — and there was sympathy from Mourinho.
A man so often linked with one day replacing the 71-year-old Ferguson at Old Trafford endeared himself to the United crowd by walking off the pitch without celebrating, in stark contrast to his charge down the touchline during a win as FC Porto manager here in 2004.
“We didn’t play well, we didn’t deserve to win,” Mourinho said. “Independent of that (the red card) the best team lost.”
Sir Alex furious
Ferguson was so angered by the sending off that he didn’t face the media after the match, sending assistant Mike Phelan in his place.
“We had thought we had got the tactics right in game, which was such a big occasion — we felt as though we were comfortable at times,” Phelan said.
“Everyone is wondering what had happened and why it happened,” he added. “We had a very distraught dressing room and a very distraught manager — and that’s why I’m sat here in front of you now.”
There was a big gamble by Ferguson before the match, dropping a star from the starting line-up just like 10 years ago.
For David Beckham in 2003, read Wayne Rooney in 2013.
Even Rooney’s wife expressed dismay at the decision, with Coleen tweeting: “Can’t believe (at) WayneRooney isn’t starting tonight!!!”
Ferguson claimed earlier it was a tactical decision — and even Mourinho weighed in to defend the manager in another sign of diplomacy from the former Chelsea manager at the club he could work for one day.
“Sir Alex won the right to have every decision acknowledged as correct and every decision should have no question mark,” Mourinho told reporters. “He is the best, he has created history. You are nobody and I am nobody to put a question mark in front. His team was very well organized.”
Unable to get past Lopez
The team just couldn’t find a way past goalkeeper Diego Lopez, apart from the own goal.
Giggs was the creator of the early efforts, with a Robin van Persie’s attempt bundled clear by Ramos and Danny Welbeck’s rebound smothered by the goalkeeper after Nemanja Vidic headed against the post.
Lopez was beaten by his own player in the 48th after Raphael Varane gave the ball away on the byline and Nani seized possession before whipping in a cross that Ramos turned into his own.
Fortune didn’t appear to be favouring Madrid, but that was reversed inside 10 minutes with Nani’s red card.
A furious Ferguson charged down from his seat in the elevated dugout to the touchline, and tried to whip the crowd up into a frenzy.
Instead, Madrid’s spirits were raised, with Modric scoring seven minutes after replacing Arbeloa.
The Croatia midfielder cut to his right across the top of the penalty area and unleashed a 25-yard shot that eluded the left hand of diving goalkeeper David De Gea and went in off a post.
Modric helped to create the second, with Mesut Ozil then releasing Higuain, who sent a low cross across the penalty area. At the far post, Ronaldo was primed to slide in past Rafael and tap the ball into the net.
United’s response was to replace Tom Cleverley with Rooney but the hosts were repeatedly thwarted by Lopez.
As Madrid’s quest for a 10th European title goes on, United’s bid to win No. 4 at Wembley Stadium in May is over.
Dortmund books tickets to quarters
Borussia Dortmund beat Shakhtar Donetsk 3-0 to reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since it won the competition in 1997.
Felipe Santana scored in the 31stminute, Mario Goetze in the 37th and Jakub Blaszczykovski in the 59th to complete the victory that sent the German champion through 5-2 on aggregate.
In the other Round of 16 match on Tuesday, Real Madrid beat Manchester United 2-1 to advance 3-2 on aggregate.
The Champions League is Dortmund’s only chance to win a trophy this season. Dortmund achieved the domestic double last season but has been eliminated from the German Cup by Bayern Munich and was 17 points behind the Bavarian side in the Bundesliga.
Dortmund was without central defender Mats Hummels, down with the flu. But his replacement Santana got Dortmund rolling with the first goal. Hummels scored the late equalizer in the first leg in Ukraine.
Santana rose above Yaroslav Rakitskiy to head in Mario Goetze’s corner. Razvan Rat was on the line but the shot went over his head.
Only six minutes later, Robert Lewandowski broke through on the right and sent in a perfect low cross that Goetze knocked in.
Lewandowski, Dortmund’s top scorer, missed chances both before and after Dortmund’s two goals in the first half.
Shakhtar came close to scoring in the final minute of the first half, when Fernandinho tested Roman Weidenfeller with an angled shot but the Dortmund goalkeeper tipped it over.
Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu sent in Dougles Costa at the start of the second half and the speedy midfielder gave a lift to his team.
He made a threatening run from his own half, sprinting past two Dortmund players before Weidenfeller thwarted his attempt.
Costa then narrowly missed the target with a low shot across the goal.
The match was settled with Blaszczykowski’s goal in the 59th. The midfielder fed Ilkay Guendogan, who shot from the edge of the penalty area. Shakhtar goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov caught the ball but fumbled it and Blaszczykowski put it into the net.
Both sides wasted some late chances.
Wayne Rooney’s future with Man United in doubt
(PhatzRadio / CBC Sports) — Emboldened by comparisons with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney was in such a position of strength at Manchester United in 2010 that he took on manager Sir Alex Ferguson and won a lucrative new contract.
At that time, Rooney was at the peak of his powers, easily English football’s star player. He seemed to believe he was too good for United, that the club wasn’t matching his ambitions.
Less than three years later and the opposite may be true.
Ferguson’s decision to drop Rooney — now behind Robin van Persie in the pecking order — for Tuesday’s Champions League match against Real Madrid has left some to question the striker’s future at Old Trafford.
Ten years ago, David Beckham was snubbed by Ferguson for a big Champions League match against Madrid — and then left United for the Spanish team at the end of the season. Ruud van Nistelrooy was left out of United’s side for the 2006 League Cup final following an apparent rift with Ferguson and wasn’t at the club the following campaign.
Rooney’s plight — missing out on arguably United’s biggest match since the 2011 Champions League final — was overshadowed by the game-changing red card awarded to Nani and the fact that Ronaldo scored the winner against his former club on an emotional night at Old Trafford.
Yet, it could well prove to be an intriguing side-issue for the rest of the season, for Rooney will never be short of suitors. British bookmaker William Hill has odds of 7-2 on Rooney leaving in the off-season, with Manchester City the favourite to sign him.
‘Big decisions have to be made’
The reasons behind Ferguson’s selection must be galling for Rooney. The coach suggested the player’s fitness was an issue — “Wayne Rooney needs a game or two” — despite Rooney having played 90 minutes against Norwich on Saturday, scoring a fabulous late goal and setting up two others in an impressive display.
Ferguson also said Danny Welbeck was the attacking player more suited to the defensive duties of shackling Xabi Alonso, the deep-lying playmaker who starts many of Madrid’s attacks.
“Big decisions have to be made,” United assistant manager Mike Phelan said.
And Ferguson has shown down the years he is not afraid to make them.
Until Nani was sent off, the tactics worked perfectly. Welbeck was United’s best player, stunting Alonso’s influence but also looking like his team’s most dangerous player going forward.
However, he didn’t score from two great chances and that is the point Rooney’s many supporters will argue. Whereas Welbeck has scored only two goals for United this season, Rooney has 14 and would have been more likely to take those chances.
Rooney, brooding while sitting in United’s dugout, came on as a 73rd-minute substitute, all fired up. But couldn’t change the game, missing a good chance when he hooked a close-range volley over.
His actions after the final whistle were telling. While the majority of United’s players complained to the officials — Rio Ferdinand applauded sarcastically in Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir’s face — Rooney was shaking hands with Madrid players.
Perhaps it is a sign of the new, mature Rooney. But usually he is one of the most emotional players out there, the first to be barking at the officials.
‘Bitterly disappointed to be left out’
As United’s players trudged off the pitch aggrieved at a sense of injustice by a refereeing call, Rooney could have been hurting for another reason.
“He’ll be bitterly disappointed to be left out,” former United midfielder Roy Keane said in his role as a TV analyst. “Wayne might be quite selfish about it and look at it and say the writing’s on the wall for him.”
That’s the same Keane who also had run-ins with Ferguson, notably after criticizing his teammates in an interview with in-house station MUTV in 2005.
Rooney has had to accept he is no longer the main striker at United since Van Persie’s arrival in August and his contribution to United’s surge to the Premier League title has been fleeting.
It’s getting to the stage where pundits are applauding his determination and ability to track back to help his defence more than his impact as a goal scorer. Rooney has been playing on the left wing, behind the striker even in central midfield this season — and he surely sees himself as more than simply a glorified utility player.
Rooney’s actions and body language are sure to be followed with increasing interest for the remainder of the season.