Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson revealed he had to drop club captain Nemanja Vidic for the clash with Real Madrid.
The Old Trafford favourite was not even in the squad for the 1-1 draw with Jose Mourinho’s side at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Danny Welbeck gave the Red Devils the lead after 20 minutes before former United man Cristiano Ronaldo ten minutes later with a fine header.
The Premier League leaders then held out well to keep the tie level, though Vidic’s defensive expertise would have been a plus in the rear guard action to propel the Spanish champions.
Ferguson said he wanted the Serbian there but just couldn’t afford to pick him after he played the whole of the Premier League victory over Everton last Sunday.
“We try and manage Vidic and Rio and if he had that extra day he would have been alright,” said Ferguson.
“But three days after playing on at a greasy pitch at Old Trafford would have been a risk for us, and I can’t take a risk.”
Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans were solid in defence against the likes of Ronaldo, Angel di Maria and Mesut Ozil, though man of he match for United was under fire goalkeeper David de Gea.
The former Atletico Madrid man made numerous outstanding save to repel los Blancos and sent a message to some of his many critics.