Emotional night for Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo refused to celebrate his goal in Real Madrid's 1-1 draw with Man United out of respect for his old club.

Last Updated: 14/02/13 at 12:13 Post Comment

Cristiano Ronaldo refused to celebrate his goal during Real Madrid's 1-1 draw with Manchester United out of respect for his six years with the Old Trafford club.

Ronaldo scored Real's first-half equaliser after Danny Welbeck had put the visitors ahead in the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie at the Bernabeu.

Instead of celebrating the former world player of the year opted to acknowledge the Real fans before making an almost apologetic gesture to the Red Devils dug-out.

"I was in Manchester for six years so tonight was very emotional for me," the Portuguese said.

"I scored a goal but I didn't celebrate out of respect.

"Maybe United are favourites now, maybe not. Anything can happen.

"Sometimes we are better away than at home so we will see.

"It will be amazing to play at Old Trafford again after four years. It will be another emotional night."

Sir Alex Ferguson revealed Ronaldo went into the United dressing room to speak with his old team-mates.

"I spoke to him. He is sitting in our dressing room, talking to the lads," said the United boss.

"He had six years with us and I am proud of how he flourished.

"I blamed Patrice Evra for not challenging for his goal until I saw the replay and felt a bit stupid.

"His knee is about as high as Evra's head - phenomenal.

"I don't think any other player in the world can do that, certainly not Messi."

Ferguson said he would have accepted the result prior to kick-off. However, it required a series of outstanding saves from David de Gea to ensure the tie remained deadlocked.

"De Gea was excellent," Ferguson said. "He made three or four top saves.

"He has been improving all season.

"There was one save in the first half which he touched onto the post (from Coentrao) which was superb.

"I am pleased for him. He is an Atletico boy playing here in Madrid, but he has done well."

Ferguson also had words of praise for United's other stand-out performer Welbeck.

"He was marvellous," said Ferguson.

"It is a pity he got cramp at the end of game, but he worked so hard.

"It was only second goal of season.

"We expected more, but he is young.

"They found it difficult to handle him."

Ferguson revealed he left out skipper Nemanja Vidic as a direct consequence of United's Premier League encounter with Everton being shifted to last Sunday.

"If we had played on the Saturday, the extra day would have suited me, but he plays one game every eight or nine days and still has to manage his comeback from injury," said Ferguson.

"Rio is exactly the same, and the type of game on Sunday suited Vidic more."

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho feels the tie remains finely balanced at "50-50".

Analysing the match on Sky Sports 2, Mourinho said: "Nothing new. Not a surprising match, not a surprising result.

"I think basically (it was) what I was waiting for, which is everything very open for the second leg. As I was thinking, I think this will go to the last minute."

Asked if the meeting had resembled a game of chess, the Portuguese replied: "For them - not for us. They changed their way of play.

"They had the block very, very low in the second half. I think Rio (Ferdinand) and (Jonny) Evans - they didn't put one foot in our own half. They were waiting for a set-piece or a counter-attack.

"They defended well and the result is open. If you ask me percentages, I don't change one single number - 50/50."

Mourinho remained upbeat about his side's chances heading into the Old Trafford rematch on March 5.

Asked whether the draw handed the advantage to United, he replied: "No. We can score more than one goal there."

He added: "They had two big chances in the second half, but chances out of context because we were chasing the game and they were just defending.

"This is the Champions League and there are two matches, home and away. They did their match and they did it well."

United striker Robin van Persie, who might have had a hat-trick on another night after spurning some inviting openings, was cautious in his assessment of the result.

A draw on the road, complete with an an away goal, represents a fine return for the Red Devils. but the Dutchman does not believe the fact that the sides head to Old Trafford for the deciding match will be a critical factor.

Asked if his side were now in pole position, he told Sky Sports 2: "Slightly, (but) at this level these kind of teams don't really care if they play home or away.

"We don't really care; they don't really care. It's half-time and we will be ready for the second half.

"It was a good result away from home. People who have watched the game have seen chances for both sides. It was a great game to watch."

Reflecting on his own chances, Van Persie admitted he was surprised to be leaving Madrid without a goal to his name.

"I had three (opportunities) in the second half, especially one where I hit the bar. It was a big chance and I should have put it in. With a bit of luck it could have gone in.

"Then in the dying seconds the keeper (Diego Lopez) made a great save. I was counting on that one going in."

Real midfielder Xabi Alonso was reasonably content with the result. "I think it's not bad at all," the former Liverpool man said on Sky Sports 2.

"It could have been better because we had chances. (But) they had chances. So, looking forward to the second leg. It's quite open.

"We need to go for the win. We can't approach the second leg thinking about a draw. We want to go to Old Trafford to score goals."

Alonso agreed with his coach that the visitors' priority had been to defend.

"They were really careful," the Spain international said.

"They know whenever they are playing away they want to be really compact, really solid in defence. It was difficult for us to create chances."


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