Jones & Evans lead the fight in Madrid
Jonny Evans & Phil Jones best embodied the fight shown by Manchester United players against Real Madrid
The stage was set for a game that an estimated 200 million people around the world would see, Real Madrid against Manchester United in the bustling and booming Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
Besides the fiery and inspiring clashes between these two European giants, the fans had another special reason to be glued to the action; it was the first time that Cristiano Ronaldo would play against the club that announced him on the big stage.
Having spent six years at Old Trafford he was finally reunited with his former teammates and manager after leaving in 2009.
Even United manager Sir Alex Ferguson proclaimed it would not be a 0-0 draw in the pre-match press conference on Tuesday evening.
United got off to a fantastic start, with Danny Welbeck escaping Sergio Ramos to head in a Wayne Rooney corner on the 20 minute mark from a corner.
It took Madrid and, most significantly, Ronaldo ten minutes to find a reply; Angel Di Maria was allowed time and space to cross with his favoured left foot, Ronaldo lept brilliantly above Patrice Evra to head past David De Gea.
A subdued celebration showed great respect and maturity from the Portuguese international towards the club that nurtured his fantastic talent.
The second half would be a different story, however, with Real pushing and United catching them with the counter when possible.
Much like Everton on Sunday gone, United absorbed the pressure and kept their calm – two key players in this were Phil Jones and Jonny Evans.
Evans was somewhat of a surprise selection by Sir Alex Ferguson, who left out Nemanja Vidic, and Jones was a concern before travelling to Madrid, but came into a midfield role and showed his worth again.
A battling display from him ensured Madrid and Ronaldo got frustrated as they came up against walls of red shirts in the United half.
Madrid created chances, as they always do at home, but Evans’ good defending was backed up by his central defensive partner, veteran Rio Ferdinand.
David De Gea was also on top form, making some great reflex saves to keep United in the tie.
Ronaldo seemed to be watched like a hawk by Jones in the second half and, all bar a free kick, saw very little opportunity to threaten in the way he did in the first 45 minutes.
United can take credit for a battling performance, they knew this would be tough and a draw with an away goal would have been snapped up by Fergies before the game.
Performances from the likes of Jones and Evans should fill the manager with great confidence ahead of the return leg at the Theatre of Dreams in three weeks time.
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