Champions League last-16: Ronaldo haunts United and Dortmund cruise into last eight
Cristiano Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford and scored the decisive goal to end Manchester United’s hopes of European Cup glory, in what was a controversial affair. Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund cruised into the last eight with a 3-0 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk (agg 5-2).
With the world stopping to watch who would prevail between Manchester United and Real Madrid, it was a controversial red card that soured an otherwise entertaining encounter. United had the better of the first half – and came close to scoring when Nemanja Vidic hit the post from a Ryan Giggs corner.
The decision to drop Wayne Rooney did not seem to hinder United’s confidence as Danny Welbeck and Nani were looking to take the game to Madrid.
The Red Devils came out in the second half looking bullish and confident. They reaped their rewards just three minutes into the second 45, as Nani’s low cross was converted into the Real Madrid by their own defender, Sergio Ramos.
On the 56th minute, the game took a remarkable turn. A seemingly harmless high boot from Nani resulted in a straight red card and an awe of shock could be seen around Old Trafford.
It would be the perfect way for Real Madrid to get back into a game they had barely featured in. Sensing that the tie had now turned, Jose Mourinho introduced Luka Modric into the fold – and it was the Croatian who fired Madrid level, with a superb curling effort that went in via the post.
The Spanish giants were now in the ascendancy and were looking to punish a tiring United. The game was well and truly turned on its head in the 69th minute, as former Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo arrived at the back post to fire the ball home.
The Portugese forward was apologetic in his celebration as his current side went 3-2 up on aggregate. Manchester United pressed for an equaliser on the night, with substitute Wayne Rooney missing a guilt edge chance in the box to make it a last nervy few minutes for Los Galacticos.
Boos surrounded Old Trafford at the final whistle, as Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir’s disputable decision had Sir Alex and his team seething.
Elsewhere, in less controversial circumstances, Borussia Dortmund continued their impressive Champions League campaign with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk.
A bullet header from Felipe Santana gave the German side a 3-2 advantage on aggregate and they never looked back there on in. Mario Gotze soon got on the score sheet to make it 2-0 on the night and Jakub Błaszczykowski rounded off the victory with a third goal for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
The adventurous and entertaining Bundesliga side will go into the hat for the last eight as the possible dark horse of the competition. Having seen off Manchester City and Real Madrid in the group stage, Dortmund has every reason to be confident of going all the way.
Thomas Bradley, football correspondent