Manchester United's Phil Jones (L) and Jonny Evans stop Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo from scoring during their Champions League match at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid. REUTERS/Paul Hanna
Cristiano Ronaldo rescued Real Madrid with a brilliant header
against former club Manchester United to salvage a 1-1 draw
in their heavyweight Champions League last 16 first leg
showdown at the Bernabeu.
Real gave the Premier League side a torrid time in the early
stages but United took the lead against the run of play in
the 20th minute when Danny Welbeck nodded past Diego Lopez
from a Wayne Rooney corner.
Ronaldo levelled 10 minutes later when he rose to send an
Angel Di Maria centre arrowing into the corner.
There was a muted goal celebration from the Portuguese, who
became the world's most expensive player when he left United
for Real in 2009.
"It's a place where I played for six years and I have a lot
of affection for the club as everyone knows," Ronaldo told
Spanish television broadcaster Canal Plus.
"United are very strong in defence and they created some
problems for us. But with the chances we had, we could have
scored more goals
"But everything's open for the game at Old Trafford and I
think we have the ability to score goals there and get
through," he added.
United goalkeeper David De Gea, who earlier tipped a Fabio
Coentrao effort on to a post, superbly denied the same player
on the hour before Robin Van Persie fluffed a shot when he
had the goal at his mercy 18 minutes from time, allowing Xabi
Alonso to clear off the line.
The result gives United a slight advantage for the return leg
in Manchester on March 5.
Real attacked the visitors' goal from the start while a
ragged United struggled to retain possession.
They had yet to have an attempt on goal when Welbeck slipped
marker Sergio Ramos and nodded inside the post for only his
second goal in 28 matches.
Ronaldo, who was given a rousing ovation from both sets of
fans before kickoff, went close following up on his own free
kick before grabbing the equaliser with a trademark towering
Real were far more threatening going forward but nearly
conceded a second in the 34th minute when Welbeck came close
to poking a Van Persie centre past Diego Lopez.
United started the second half brightly but were soon on the
back foot as Real continued to press forward.
Although they were seeing little of the ball, the visitors
still looked dangerous and Diego Lopez tipped a searing Van
Persie drive on to the bar moments before the Netherlands
striker squandered a golden chance for United's second.
He controlled the ball in the area but miscued his volley and
Alonso was able to race back and hook the ball away with