. Cristiano Ronaldo: "It was an emotional evening"
posted by Paul Wilkes (Editor) on 2013-03-06 14:15:00

LaLigaUK was present at Old Trafford, as our Editor Paul Wilkes eventually found his seat amongst the waiting press pack.

Sir Alex Ferguson was "too angry to talk about the referee" according to his assistant manager Mike Phelan, who finally arrived after keeping the packed press conference waiting. He was so angry he didn't want his players talking in the mixed zone either, one who might have had plenty to say protested: "I can't," whilst a younger member of the squad admitted: "We have been told not to talk." The boss had plenty to say in the build-up to the match, but Turkish referee Cüneyt Çakir clearly wasn't listening.

One player who doesn't need to put his hand up and ask permission to go to the toilet is former player Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese winger felt it was his duty to talk on his return to the pitch where he made his name: "It was an emotional night. To play here and after that it was very emotional, I have to say a big thank you to the stadium, the supporters, to the players, to everyone because it was an unbelievable night for me." Against the thoughts of his current manager he added: "The players played good and we deserved it."

It was ultimately the returning hero's two goals that stopped Manchester United progressing to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, continuing his fairly recently acquired ability to find important goals in the big matches. His performances were good, though never outstanding across the 180 minutes as a combination of Ferguson's shackling tactics and the players rare mental state affected him. That perhaps sounds unfair given his match winning strikes, but that's down to the incredible standards that the forward and his Barcelona foe have now set. He certainly agreed: "The supporters made me feel shy, so I think in the two games I didn't play like I play all the time, at the same level. I feel happy because Madrid are through but a bit sad because United are out."

Real Madrid had struggled to find their flow and were second best until two key decisions turned the complexion of the match. A controversially awarded penalty - though not according to Roy Keane, possibly a thinly unveiled dig at his former mentor - and the introduction of Luka Modrić. Playing with a man advantage sometimes isn't simply enough, you have to tailor your team to play against ten rather than eleven. José Mourinho did this when bringing on Modrić, the play-maker was able to control the match, misplacing only one pass. Within eight minutes of his arrival, his exquisitely curled effort gave David De Gea no chance.

Mourinho's time at the Bernabéu has a very different outlook after eight days that have effectively changed their season. As for Sir Alex Ferguson, he will know doubt be asked questions about this match when he faces the media ahead of the game with Chelsea this weekend, maybe he will have cooled down or simply refuse to discuss it. Just when the Scottish manager is on the verge of implosion old adversary Rafa Benitez is in town to really get under his skin.


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