Man United 1 Real Madrid 2
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.