Live Commentary: Manchester United (2)1-2(3) Real Madrid - as it happened

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates a goal against Celta Vigo on January 9, 2013
© AP Photos
Sports Mole brings you live coverage of the Champions League round-of-16 second-leg clash between Manchester United and Real Madrid.

Real Madrid booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League this evening courtesy of a 3-2 aggregate win over Manchester United.

United took the lead in the second half when Sergio Ramos steered the ball into his own net, but the game turned on a harsh red card for Nani in the 55th minute.

Luka Modric scored a fine equaliser soon after before Cristiano Ronaldo completed the scoring by tapping in Gonzalo Higuain's cross at the back post.

You can read how events unfolded on an eventful night at Old Trafford with Sports Mole's play-by-play coverage below.


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6.45pmGood evening! Thank you for joining Sports Mole for what promises to be a thrilling Champions League match between Manchester United and Real Madrid.

6.47pmIt doesn't get much bigger than this, folks. Arguably the two most famous clubs in world football going head to head for a place in the next round of the Champions League. Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho said that this match felt like a final, and I#m inclined to agree with him.

6.49pmIf the main plot of Man Utd vs. Real Madrid somehow doesn't do it for you, there are plenty of sub-plots that make tonight's match even more mouth-watering. Fergie vs. Mourinho. Ronaldo vs. Van Persie. And, of course, the fact that Ronaldo is returning to the hallowed turf of Old Trafford for the first time since leaving for £80m in 2009.

6.51pmNeedless to say, all eyes will be on the 28-year-old superstar tonight. He emerged as one of the top players in the world while at United and is still revered by many of their fans. A plethora of great players have played for the Red Devils, and Ronaldo is right up there with the likes of George Best, Bobby Charlton and Eric Cantona.

6.53pmBREAKING TEAM NEWS: Some interesting developments to report from Old Trafford. Even after all these years you can't second guess Sir Alex Ferguson, and he has opted to leave Wayne Rooney on the bench today. Danny Welbeck, who scored United's goal in the first leg, comes in for him. Full teams coming right up...

6.54pmMANCHESTER UNITED STARTING XI: De Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Carrick, Giggs, Cleverley, Nani; Welbeck, Van Persie

6.55pmMANCHESTER UNITED SUBS: Lindegaard, Evans, Valencia, Kagawa, Rooney, Young, Hernandez

6.56pmREAL MADRID STARTING XI: López; Arbeloa, Varane, Ramos, Coentrão; Alonso, Khedira, Di María, Özil, Ronaldo; Higuain

6.56pmREAL MADRID SUBS: Adan, Pepe, Albiol, Kaka, Modric, Callejon, Benzema


6.58pmSo, a very interesting decision from Ferguson to drop Rooney. He may see the striker as a perfect impact sub, but against the likes of Madrid I think you need your best players on the pitch from the start, and Rooney is certainly one of United's best players. Welbeck's goal in the first leg must've had an impact on his inclusion, but I'd still go for Rooney ahead of him. Still, Ferguson has shown time and time again that he knows exactly what he is doing, so I will bow down to his superior judgement. Only time will tell if this risk will pay off.

7pmSomething that should not be overlooked is the inclusion of Ryan Giggs. The Welsh winger will make his 1000th career appearance today - a phenomenal achievement for a phenomenal player. I mentioned some United greats earlier, but he may well be top of the pile. A true legend of the game and he could still go on for a few more years yet!

7.02pmAs for Madrid, there had been speculation that Mourinho would play Ronaldo up front, but the lineup suggests that he will operate in his usual left wing role. He will, of course, cut in whenever possible, but I still think that he does most damage when playing in a central role.

7.04pmMadrid must score tonight. If they don't, they are out - it's as simple as that. They are certainly not lacking in the goals department, but they will also have to keep an eye on the other end. They have not kept a clean sheet in the Champions League so far this season, and are still without Iker Casillas.

7.06pmIt's not like they are coming up against a weak attack either. Rooney may have been left on the bench but there are still plenty of goals in this United team. Robin van Persie is always a safe bet to hit the back of the net, Welbeck has already scored in this fixture, and the likes of Nani, Cleverley and Giggs can pop up with a goal now and again too. I struggle to either side ending this one with a clean sheet.

7.08pmThe centre-back pairing of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic returns for tonight's match too. They will have a job on their hands if Ronaldo plays in a central role, but they trained against him for years so could know exactly how to deal with the Portuguese striker.

7.10pmBoth sides are in fairly luxurious positions of being able to focus their attention fully on tonight's match. United have all-but wrapped up a 20th league title and, while I'm sure Madrid would rather still be in the race for the Primera Division title, the fact that they stand no chance of catching Barcelona should allow them to put all their efforts into winning the Champions League.

7.12pmMadrid have not won this competition for a long time by their standards, and many people think that this could be their year. They are still favourites to progress today, but they face a formidable task against a United team in impeccable form.

7.14pmThe Red Devils have not lost a game in any competition since December 5 - a run of 18 games.

7.16pmTheir home form is even more impressive. They have won their last 10 games at Old Trafford and have only dropped three points from their last 16 home games.

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7.18pmMadrid's form isn't too shabby either. They have lost just one of their last 15 matches in all competitions and have secured back-to-back victories over Barcelona in their last two matches, including a 3-1 win at the Nou Camp.

7.20pmSo tonight should be a great night of European football at Old Trafford, but there is also another match between Borussia Dortmund and Shakhtar Donetsk, which should be an entertaining match in it's own right. You can follow that live here.

7.22pmBut back to Manchester, and a man called Ronaldo is expected to make the headlines tonight - just like 10 years ago. That time it was a Brazilian Ronaldo who stole the show, scoring three times in a 4-3 loss for Madrid in what is widely regarded as one of the greatest Champions League matches ever. You can relive it below:


7.25pmMadrid went through on that occasion, but a repeat scoreline will not do tonight. The tie could not be more perfectly poised after the 1-1 draw in the first leg, and Madrid need to win or claim a score draw if they want to go through.

7.27pmA quick reminder of what will happen regarding scorlines tonight: If it is 1-1, we will have extra time. If Madrid score more than once, United must win the match. If Madrid fail to score, they are out.

7.29pmLet's turn our focus to another sub-plot tonight - Fergie vs. Mourinho. The duo first came face-to-face with each other at this stage of the competition in 2004 when Mourinho infamously sprinted down the Old Trafford touchline to celebrate a late goal from his side. He went on to lead Porto to an unlikely Champions League triumph, but Ferguson was not pleased by 'The Special One's' behaviour.

7.31pmSince then, the two have reportedly become friends, and Ferguson is known to be an admirer of Mourinho. There has been talk of the Madrid manager being the man to replace Ferguson at Old Trafford, although both parties have been very quiet on that matter.

7.33pmThere are so many things that should make this match one for the ages. Ronaldo's return, Fergie vs. Mourinho and Ryan Giggs's 1000th appearance to name but three. Let's hope it lives up to expectations!

7.35pmPREDICTION: We're 10 minutes from kickoff at Old Trafford, which means that it is time for my prediction! This one really could go either way. I can see quite a few goals and, while it may not reach the levels of that 4-3 10 years ago, I am still expecting a thoroughly entertaining 90 minutes (maybe more!). My head is saying 2-1 to Real Madrid, with Ronaldo to score the winner.

7.37pmMadrid are the favourites going into this one but, despite my prediction, I wouldn't be surprised to see United pick up a win. The fact that they drew with Madrid at the Bernabeu proved that they can hang with the big boys of European football and if anyone can mastermind their way through this test it is Ferguson!

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7.39pmUnited have become regulars in the Champions League final recently too. They won the competition in 2008 and also reached the final in 2009 and 2011, losing to Barcelona on both occasions. This season's final will be staged at Wembley - as the 2011 one was - so that could be a good omen for the Red Devils.

7.41pmOn the other hand, if Madrid can beat Barcelona in back-to-back games then they can beat anyone. Pretty much anything could happen in this one, all we can do is sit back and enjoy the ride.

7.43pmAnother reminder that this match will be Giggs's 1000th appearance for club and country. This is an occasion to match it.

7.45pmThe players are lined up and we're ready to go. Ronaldo gets a great reception.

0 minHere we go!

1 minNani threatens to break away early on but Lopez is off his line quickly to collect. United have made a bright start to this one.

3 minCoentrao is brought down by a rash challenge from Giggs and Madrid have a free kick in a very promising position. A chance for Ronaldo?

4 minRonaldo does take it on, but he hammers it straight into the wall. He hasn't been as impressive as far as free kicks are concerned since moving to Madrid.

6 minBoth sides are struggling to find their rhythm early on here. This one hasn't got off to the start I quite hoped for!

8 minRather ominaously for Madrid, Van Persie hasn't scored in his last four games. He hasn't gone five without scoring for over two years - surely he's due one today?

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10 minSHOT! Madrid get the first shot in on goal as Higuain finds space on the edge of the box. He is under pressure when he gets his curling effort away, and that forces him to send it a couple of yards wide of De Gea's post.

12 minWelbeck breaks down the left and could try and find Van Persie in the middle, but instead rolls it back to Nani. The winger cuts inside before clipping a cross towards the back post that Coentrao just glances out for a corner.

14 minCHANCE! Welbeck has looked bright in these early stages, and he races down the right this time before giving it back to Giggs, who puts a delightful cross in with the outside of his boot. Van Persie is off balance when he goes for the volley, and as such barely gets anything on it. Not an easy chance by any means but a player of Van Persie's quality is capable of burying them.

17 minUnited are really on top at the moment! They come forward yet again and it's Nani who gets behind the defence this time, but his cross is cleared behind for a corner.

18 minYELLOW CARD! Patrice Evra picks up the first yellow of the match for a cynical foul as Madrid looked to break clear. He will have to be careful from now on.

20 minOFF THE POST! How are United not ahead?! Vidic meets a corner with a thunderous header that comes back off the post, straight to Welbeck who is four yards out with the goal gaping. He can't quite react in time to finish it, however, and only succeededs on directing it straight at Lopez, who is helpless on the floor but keeps it out. Unbelievable how this is still 0-0.

23 minMadrid's first real period of prolonged possession is greeted by a chorus of boos from the home fans. They are trying to make this as intimidating an atmosphere as they can.

24 minWelbeck is looking like United's most threatening player at the moment. He comes forward again but his shot is blocked by a sprawling Sergio Ramos. Madrid need to get themselves into this one.

27 minCHANCE! Madrid are doing exactly that right now! A ball over the top of the defence is expertly brought down by Ronaldo, but his shot is from too tight an angle to threaten. That's the brightest moment of the half from the visitor's point of view, though.

29 minRonaldo drills a cross into the box which is met by the head of Sami Khedira, but his effort loops harmlessly into the arms of De Gea. Still goalless in this one but Madrid and working their way into it.


31 minCarrick sticks out a leg in the box to put a dangerous looking cross behind for a corner, which comes to nothing.

31 minCHANCE! A clever ball behind the defence allows Higuain in on goal, but de Gea is out quickly to save the striker's shot with his body. Good goalkeeping.

33 minDISALLOWED! Madrid have the ball in the back of the net but the referee blows for a foul in the build up. That looks like a very harsh call!

34 minCHANCE! Oh another gilt-edge chance goes begging for United! Van Persie spins away from Varane before firing in a vicious shot from a tight angle. Lopez doesn't cover himself in glory by pushing the ball straight out to Welbeck, but he more than makes up for it by saving from the United man when he looked destined to score.

36 minPENALTY SHOUT! Over 70,000 fans scream for a penalty as Rafel goes down under the challenge of Ramos in the box. The ref is having none of it, however, and waves play on. Correct decision.

37 minYELLOW CARD! Arbeloa enters the referee's notebook after a poor touch left him stretching for the ball, only to bring down Evra.

39 minUPDATE: Dortmund are 2-0 up against Shakhtar Donestk on the night, which makes it 4-2 to the Germans on aggregate.

40 minMourinho is cutting a glum figure on the touchline at the moment. He is given something to smile about when Varane puts in a fine tackle on Welbeck as the United man threatened to break free, however.

42 minDi Maria trudges down the tunnel after receiving treatment. No-one has come on for him yet so Madrid are playing with 10 men at the moment, but Kaka looks ready to enter the fray.

44 minREAL MADRID SUB: There is the sub, Kaka comes on for the injured Di Maria.

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45 minWe will have one minute of added time at the end of a pretty uneventful half.

45+1 minHALF TIME: Manchester United 0-0 Real Madrid

8.33pmThe referee brings an end to an underwhelming half of football, that was a bit of an anticlimax I must say. Even so, United have had two great chances to take the lead and really should be ahead.

8.35pmVidic has hit the post with a header and the rebound fell straight to Welbeck, who couldn't steer it in to an open goal from four yards out. Lopez was incredibly lucky that the ball found its way back to him on that occasion.

8.37pmThere was nothing lucky about his save from Danny Welbeck later in the half, although it was his poor initial save that created the chance. Van Persie's shot was parried into the danger zone by the keeper, but he recovered well to tip Welbeck's effort over the bar.

8.39pmDespite those two misses, Welbeck was the stand out player in that first half. He did a great job closing down Alonso when Madrid had the ball and looked very lively when going forward. Ronaldo, on the other hand, has been pretty anonymous.

8.41pmI can't imagine it will be too much longer before we see Rooney, although at this rate he may be replacing Van Persie rather than Welbeck.

8.43pmSo, what will both managers be saying at half time? Well, Ferguson will want more of the same. United have been the better team so far and, as things stand, they are going through. A goal wouldn't really change things too much as Madrid would still need to score, but if they can nick one then they will provide themselves insurance against any late goal.

8.45pmMourinho, meanwhile, will be desperate to get his team more involved in this match. To do that, Alonso needs more space as he is the man who provides most chances for the likes of Ronaldo and Higuain. I wouldn't be surprised to see Ronaldo move into a more central position too.

8.46pmThe players are back out on the field and we're ready to go!

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45 minManchester United get us back underway for this second half.

47 minThe visitors are controlling the ball in the opening stages of this half. They will need to be more careful in possession than they were in the first half if they are to stand any chance of getting something from this game.

47 minGOAL! Manchester United 1-0 Real Madrid (Sergio Ramos og)

48 minOh it's a horror show for Madrid! Rafael advances with the ball and plays a fine ball into Welbeck, who has made a late run into the box. He can't get a shot away and Varane has a chance to clear, but instead tries to play the ball out. Nani steals possession inside the Madrid area and feeds a low pass in that Welbeck gets a slight touch to before it bounces off Ramos and past Lopez. Game on in Manchester!

50 minThat goal shouldn't have altered Madrid's mindset too much as they still need a goal, but it has given the home fans a huge lift if nothing else. Old Trafford is rocking!

52 minThere is a greater sense of urgency about Madrid now, though. Perhaps that is exactly what they needed to wake them up a bit.

53 minHiguain swings in a peach of a delivery right between the keeper and defence, but no-one gambles for Madrid and it runs out for a goal kick. That was such a good ball, if you could chart the existence of the 'corridor of uncertainty', it would be exactly where that ball went.

55 minRED CARD! Oh my word! Out of the blue Nani is shown a red card! He goes for the ball with a high foot and catches Arbeloa, but his eyes were firmly on the ball. The ref has an age to think about it as both players are down injured, before eventually giving Nani his marching orders. Terrible, terrible decision and it could have a huge impact on this tie. Ferguson is incandescent with rage on the sideline, and rightly so.

58 minREAL MADRID SUB: Arbeloa is replaced by Modric for Madrid as Mourinho tries to turn the screw and take advantage of their extra man.

59 minThe crowd inside Old Trafford is as loud as I've heard them, and Ferguson is acting as a cheerleader trying to get them even louder. The stunned silence has been replaced boos.

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60 minOFF THE LINE! Madrid are camped in the United half at the moment and they win a corner, which is met by Varane's header. His effort looks like it is flying in and it gets another touch from Higuain on the way through, but Rafael hurls himself in the way of it. Replays show that he actually cleared it off the line with his arm! Even more controversy in this one!

62 minAnother corner flashes right across the face of the United goal as Madrid continue to throw everything at the hosts.

63 minSAVE! United make a rare foray into the Madrid half and it is more good work from Welbeck as he lays the ball back to Van Persie, who hits it first time with his weaker foot. It is a low, skidding effort but Lopez gets down well to save.

65 minGOAL! Manchester United 1-1 Real Madrid (Luka Modric)

66 minWhat a beauty! Modric picks the ball up about 25 yards from goal and skips past Carrick before smashing a curling effort in off the post. He was running away from goal when he hit that, which makes it even more impressive. Sumptuous strike from the Croatian - that's only his second for Madrid!

68 minGOAL! Manchester United 1-2 Real Madrid (Cristiano Ronaldo)

69 minMadrid strike again straight away! Ozil and Higuain link up well before the latter flashes a shot/cross across the face of goal. Ronaldo slides in at the back post to divert it in and give Madrid the advantage. He refuses to celebrate, but that is a huge goal.

71 minYELLOW CARD! Carrick enters the referee's notebook for dissent after claiming for a penalty against Khedira.

72 minYELLOW CARD! Kaka follows Carrick into the book shortly afterwards for a foul on Evra.

72 minMANCHESTER UNITED SUB: It's Rooney time! The England man enters the action in place of Tom Cleverley. If he wants to show Ferguson why he should have started, now is a good time to do it!


73 minCHANCE! Ramos only manages to half-clear a cross, allowing Evra to hook it back in towards Welbeck. The United man can't get enough power on his header, however, and it's comfortable for Lopez.

75 minA reminder that United now need to score twice to go through. They are, unsurprisingly, on the front foot now but I wouldn't be surprised to see Madrid hit them on the counter attack as this one gets more stretched.

77 minHiguain tries to pick a way through the United defence but he is eventually crowded out. United's midfield is almost non-existant at the moment as they pour forward every chance they get.

79 minCHANCE! Welbeck has space to shoot inside the box yet again having been found by Rafael. He puts his foot through it but Ramos stands firm to block. The crowd want a penalty for handball but the referee correctly turns the claims down.

80 minMANCHESTER UNITED SUB: That will be Welbeck's last action as he is replaced by Ashley Young. Welbeck has been pretty lively today but he has also been guilty of missing some great chances.

82 minCHANCE! A fine save by Lopez denies Carrick from drawing level. The midfielder flicks his header goalwards by Lopez's reactions are good and he beats it away.

84 minCHANCES! United are really knocking on the door at the moment! First Van Persie is denied by another good save from Lopez and then Rooney snatches at a volley, putting it just over the bar when he probably should have scored. They're getting closer!

85 minSHOT! Ronaldo feints a shot inside the box about five times to work himself space for an actual shot. When he does actually go for goal it is a fairly weak effort that is comfortable for De Gea.

87 minMANCHESTER UNITED SUB: Rafael is replaced by Antonio Valencia in the closing stages. Last throw of the dice for Ferguson.

87 minYELLOW CARD! Pepe is shown a yellow card but I'm not realy sure what for. Perhaps a word out of place or time wasting.

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88 minOFF THE POST! So nearly game over here at Old Trafford. Kaka advances in on goal and opens his body to shoot with Carrick in attendance. The shot deflects off the United man, wrong-footing De Gea who is relieved to see it come back off the post as he dives on the rebound.

90 minThere will be five minutes of added time. Surely United can't pull something out of the bag at this late stage...can they?!

90+1 minCHANCE! Ronaldo is slipped in down the left side of the penalty area before firig a powerful shot in towards goal. De Gea gets down well to save before launching another counter attack.

90+1 minCHANCE! This is really end-to-end stuff now! United win a corner and Vidic meets it with a powerful header, but Lopez beats it away again. He has had a huge game today.

90+2 minPENALTY SHOUT! United want a penalty as one of their men is brought down inside the box by Ramos. The ref says no again, but this time he probably should've pointed to the spot.

90+3 minSHOT! Ronaldo shapes to cross to the back post but instead hammers it to the near post, which De Gea has to be very alert to keep out.

90+5 minFULL TIME: Manchester United 1-2 Real Madrid

9.39pmPhew! What a thrilling second half that was, I could barely keep up! United players surround the referee after the final whistle, and Ferdinand sarcastically claps him before shaking his hand. Needless to say, they are not happy with the Turkish official. Ferguson's reaction will be even more volatile, I'm sure.

9.41pmNani's red card was certainly the turning point in this one. United were on top when the winger was given his marching orders, but not long afterwards fell behind courtesy of goals from Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo. It's a shame that such a huge game was ultimately decided by an incorrect refereeing decision, but it was still a fantastic game of football.

9.43pmThe fact remains that it will be Madrid's name in the hat for the Champions League quarter-finals, not United's. With that goes United's dreams of replicating their 1999 treble, too.

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9.45pmRight, that's it from me tonight! Thank you for joining Sports Mole for tonight's thrilling encounter. I will leave you with Joe Fish's match report and be sure to stick around for the match analysis which should be on site within half an hour. Also stay around for reaction, of which I'm sure there will be plenty! Goodbye!

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring against Manchester United on February 13, 2013
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