Real Madrid and Manchester United came to a 1-1 draw in their first leg of Champions League play on Wednesday. The two sides will meet again March 5th in front of a Manchester United crowd, which could help Manchester gain an edge over Real.
Two first half goals — a 20th-minute header by Manchester’s Danny Welbeck, giving them an early lead, and a 29th-minute equalizer by Real’s Cristiano Ronaldo — were the only goals netted in this match. Real controlled the ball for 61% of the game and had 28 shot attempts to Manchester’s 13, but failed to capitalize. Strong defense by Manchester United’s Phil Jones limited Ronaldo to just one goal. Also slowing the Madrid offense was incredible play by Manchester keeper David De Gea, who made a series of spectacular stops.
Manchester United had fewer opportunities, but those they had were golden. Of their 13 attempts, six of them were on target — a great percentage. Late in the second half, Manchester failed to capitalize on several counter-attacks. A wide-open left-footed opportunity was miscalculated by Robin Van Persie, who is left-footed, resulting in a rare weak kick that dribbled slowly towards an empty net — but Real’s defenseman Xabi Alonso was able to track down the ball and clear the line. This was seconds after a strike off the crossbar by Van Persie that could have put the Red Devils up by one.
Manchester’s Ryan Giggs came on late in the second half but could have left a considerable imprint on this one. After a Madrid defenseman slipped in the box, Giggs was left wide open just 10 yards out, but took an extra dribble which caused Madrid defenders to quickly collapse on the veteran. At the 81-minute mark, it could have been a miraculous goal by Giggs.
Manchester United was pleased to come away with a draw, as they were on their heels for most of the match. This has set the stage wonderfully for the second leg in early March.