Ronaldo scores but United defiant

Manchester United take away goal into Champions League second leg as Shakhtar Donetsk and Borussia Dortmund also draw.

    Ronaldo scores but United defiant
    United's Welbeck (R) celebrates after scoring opening goal at Real Madrid's Bernabeu stadium [Reuters]

    Arguably the biggest tie in the Champions League last-16 is still alive and kicking after Real Madrid and Manchester United shared the spoils on Wednesday in Spain.

    Danny Welbeck and Cristiano Ronaldo headed first-half goals as two of the world's biggest sides, and biggest managers, played out a 1-1 draw.

    Man United's Alex Ferguson is likely to be the happier of the managers after collecting an away goal to take to Old Trafford.

    "We had some great chances, but it was disappointing that we sat back a lot in the first-half. We changed it round in the second half and it made a difference," said Ferguson.

    "It's still very open. We know they will attack like they did at Manchester City in the first-half in the group stage."

    Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, who is rumoured to be unhappy at the Spanish club, refused to surrender the tie saying his team still had a 50/50 chance.

    "We had some great chances, but it was disappointing that we sat back a lot in the first-half. We changed it round in the second half and it made a difference"

    United manager Alex Ferguson

    "For them they played very tactically, they play very deep especially in second-half. They were waiting for a set piece to score. Even going there for the second leg we can score goals," said Mourinho.

    It was apt that former United player Ronaldo was on the scoresheet. The Portuguese star levelled on 30 minutes with a superb header, his seventh Champions League goal of the season, which makes him the top-scorer in the competition. 

    Ferguson had promised goals before the match and they came early enough, but then his team put on a battling performance with David De Gea excellent in goal to take a draw into the second leg on March 5.

    United weathered an early storm and when Welbeck and Shinji Kagawa combined well to win a corner on 20 minutes it was Welbeck who eluded the marking of Ramos to head home the opening goal and his first in the competition this season.

    Ronaldo hammered wide the rebound of his own blocked free-kick before grabbing the equaliser 10 minutes later when he effortlessly leapt above Patrice Evra to hang in the air before perfectly heading home a Di Maria cross.

    Moments later Welbeck was inches from his second after good work on the left by Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney shot wide from the resultant corner.

    While Madrid were enjoying a lot of the possession, United continued to look dangerous on the counter-attack while managing to restrict the home side to long shots. 

    Real boss Jose Mourinho decided to change things around on the hour withdrawing Karim Benzema for Gonzalo Higuain. 

    A minute later De Gea made the save of the game stopping Coentrao from close range with his outstretched foot.

    United's defensive play grew throughout the game, the experienced Rio Ferdinand organised well the centre of defence, while Michael Carrick aided by Phil Jones and a very deep Rooney tidied up a lot in the centre of the pitch.

    When Madrid did get through in the final minutes it was again Madrid-born De Gea, signed from city rivals Atletico, who was at hand to save from Khedira on 80 minutes.

    There was still time for Ronaldo to float a free-kick just over the bar and Diego Lopez to tip wide a Van Persie shot in injury time.

    With honours even, the second leg is now set up perfectly and will once again be eagerly anticipated by millions.

    Plane tragedy

    Germany defender Mats Hummels's late header gave Borussia Dortmund a Champions League lifeline with a 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.

    However, Dortmund's impressive result will be overshadowed by the deaths of five fans and 12 injured when a plane from Odessa, south Ukraine, carrying 45 people crashed while landing at Donetsk airport, just hours before kick-off.

    A minute's silence was held as a mark of respect.

    Dortmund twice came from behind and were heading towards their first European defeat of the season before centre-back Hummels powered home from a corner, three minutes from time.

              Shakhtar Donetsk players commemorate the victims of a plane crash at Donetsk airport [EPA]

    Donetsk captain Darijo Srna's free-kick was cancelled out by a first-half equaliser from Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski before Brazilian Douglas Costa restored Shakhtar's advantage 22 minutes from time.

    Hummels' header puts Dortmund in pole position to reach the quarter-finals for the second-leg at Borussia's Signal Iduna Park stadium in a fortnight.

    Having beaten Real Madrid, Manchester United and Ajax to win Group D, Dortmund came perilously close to joining current holders Chelsea in suffering defeat at Shakhtar's notoriously tricky Donbass Arena.

    Dortmund made a bright start when Hummels clattered the woodwork with a bullet header from a corner with only 17 minutes gone.

    Donetsk took the lead when Srna smashed a free-kick over the wall and into the top right-hand corner with Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller grasping at air on 31 minutes.

    Borussia responded and equalised ten minutes later when a Mario Goetze cross wrong-footed Lewandowski and the Donetsk defence, but the Poland star responded quickest to slot his shot home.

    Donetsk went back into the lead when Costa scored a dream goal on 62 minutes just six minutes after coming off the bench.

    Both Hummels and Germany team-mate Marcel Schmelzer failed to deal with a 40 metre pass out of defence from Donetsk defender Yaroslav Rakytskyy, but Costa controlled the ball with one touch, then slammed his shot home with the next.

    At the other end, Lewandowski went close moments later as the German champions stepped up the pace in a bid to draw level again.

    With time almost up, Schmelzer's pin-point accurate corner from the left was met in the middle by Hummels with the Donetsk defence nowhere to be seen to give Dortmund a deserved draw.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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