Man United 1 Real Madrid 2

Luis Nani

Man­chester Uni­ted 1 Re­al Mad­rid 2, Old Traf­ford, UEFA Cham­pi­ons Lea­gue Last Six­teen Sec­ond Leg , Mar­ch 5, 2013. Man­chester Uni­ted fou­nd them­selves knock­ed out of the Cham­pi­ons Lea­gue af­ter suf­fer­ing a con­tro­ver­sial de­feat ag­ainst Re­al Mad­rid. Uni­ted went ahead three min­utes in­to the sec­ond ha­lf, but then con­ceded twice to lose the tie by 2-1.

Man­chester Uni­ted came fresh from a 4-0 Pre­miership vic­tory ag­ainst Chris Hughton´s Nor­wich City at Old Traf­ford wi­th Ja­pan­ese in­ter­na­tion­al mid­fielder Shinji Ka­gawa scor­ing a tre­ble and Way­ne Roo­ney net­ting the fourth goal. Re­al Mad­rid, mean­while, had beaten his­tor­ic­al en­emies Bar­celona 2-1 at the San­ti­ago Bern­abeu Sta­dium in the Span­ish Primera Di­vi­sion thanks to goals from stri­ker Karim Ben­zema and de­fender Ser­gio Ramos. In keep­ing wi­th most UEFA Cham­pi­ons Lea­gue en­coun­ters be­tween Man­chester Uni­ted and Re­al Mad­rid up thro­ugh the years, the show­down at The Theatre of Dreams un­doubtedly lived up to its billing as an ac­tion packed and con­tro­ver­sial clash, and firebrand head coach Sir Al­ex Fer­guson was still strug­gling wi­th his tem­per sev­er­al hours af­ter mat­ch had fin­ished. In truth, this was a ga­me Man­chester Uni­ted did not de­serve to lose af­ter dom­in­at­ing pos­ses­sion for large parts of bo­th halves, but un­for­tu­nately the some­what short sighted mat­ch of­fi­cial went on to make nu­mer­ous ques­tion­able de­cisions dur­ing the tussle.

Man­chester Uni­ted con­trolled pro­ceed­ings from the start and the ho­me si­de ul­ti­mately went in­to a well de­served 1-0 lead when un­for­tu­nate Re­al Mad­rid stop­per Ser­gio Ramos ma­naged to be­at his own goal­keeper in the 48th min­ute of the meet­ing. There was even more dra­ma to come some ten min­utes af­ter the ha­lf time re­fresh­ments, tho­ugh, when Iberi­an wing­er Lu­is Nani was giv­en his march­ing or­ders for a high a kick on Span­ish in­ter­na­tion­al stunt­man Al­varo Ar­be­l­oa who in re­turn did his best to win an Oscar. Sir Al­ex re­acted wi­th fury and out­rage af­ter the highly con­tro­ver­sial red card which in the end con­trib­uted to United´s down­fall ag­ainst The Whi­tes. Croa­tian mid­field or­ches­trat­or Luka Mod­ric then re­cor­ded the equal­iser wi­th a power­ful and well pla­ced rock­et shot from well over twenty yards out six min­utes pa­st the hour ma­rk be­fore no­ne oth­er than Cris­ti­ano Ron­aldo wrecked Man­chester United’s hopes of reach­ing the Cham­pi­ons Lea­gue Quart­er Fi­nals when the Por­tuguese stri­ker slid ho­me the win­ner just three min­utes la­ter. The battle be­tween the two clubs had sud­denly changed from vi­brant to dead with­in the time span of just a quart­er and, as prom­ised by Amer­ic­an av­ant-gard­ist artist Andy War­hol, Turk­ish ref­er­ee Cuneyt Cakır had now achieved his fif­teen min­utes of wor­ld fa­me. Wi­th the vis­ion of Ray Charles and Stevie Won­der com­bined, the blatantly in­sec­ure mat­ch of­fi­cial went on to com­mit a num­ber of bizarre mis­takes dur­ing the tie and the seem­ingly over­worked in­sur­ance agent should nev­er had be­en al­lowed to blow his horn at this level just for safety reas­ons alone.

It should have be­en a night of joy for Sir Al­ex Fer­guson and his Man­chester Uni­ted play­ers, but in­stead they were robbed by the ref­er­ee who was either biased or just plain in­com­pet­ent. In the af­ter­math of the heated Cham­pi­ons Lea­gue fix­ture, Fer­guson was, in fact, so up­set at the ref­er­ee­ing per­form­ance that he blatantly point blank re­fused to talk to the me­dia, and as­sist­ant man­ager Mi­ke Phelan at­ten­ded the press con­fer­ence in­stead of him. Ger­man mat­ch of­fi­cial Ger­hard Schu­lenburg wrecked Bri­an Clough´s dreams of tak­ing his hard work­ing Der­by Coun­ty si­de to the Euro­pean Cup Fi­nal in 1973. Greek ref­er­ee Chris­tos Michas then des­troyed Don Revie´s hopes of his tal­en­ted Leeds Uni­ted te­am win­ning the Euro­pean Cup Winner´s Cup Fi­nal ag­ainst Itali­an Serie A out­fit AC Mil­an at the Kaf­tan­zoglio Sta­dium in Thes­saloniki in Greece in the very same year. And in Mar­ch 2013, Turk­ish mat­ch of­fi­cial Cuneyt Cakir denied Sir Al­ex Ferguson´s Man­chester Uni­ted vic­tory ag­ainst long­time Euro­pean ad­versar­ies Re­al Mad­rid at Old Traf­ford in the Cham­pi­ons Lea­gue. Ac­cord­ing to for­mer Ir­ish crick­eter and rugby uni­on ref­er­ee Alan Lewis, the ob­ject­ive of a ref­er­ee is not to get men­tioned. What very wi­se words in­deed. Man­chester Uni­ted Te­am: Da­vid de Gea, Ra­fael, Pat­rice Ev­ra, Ne­manja Vid­ic, Rio Fer­dinand, Nani, Tom Clev­er­ley, Mi­chael Car­rick, Ry­an Gig­gs, Robin van Per­sie, Dan­ny Wel­beck. Sub­stitutes: Va­lencia, Way­ne Roo­ney, Ash­ley Young, Javi­er Her­nandez, Shinji Ka­gawa, Jon­ny Evans, An­der­son, An­ders Linde­gaard. Re­al Mad­rid Te­am: Diego Lo­pez, Al­varo Ar­be­l­oa, Fa­bio Coen­trao, Ser­gio Ramos, Raphael Varane, An­gel Di Mar­ia, Sami Khedira, Mesut Oz­il, Xabi Alonso, Cris­ti­ano Ron­aldo, Gonzalo Higuain. Sub­stitutes: Pepe, Jose Calle­jon, Kaka, Luka Mod­ric, Raul Al­biol, Karim Ben­zema, An­tonio Adan.

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