Real Madrid possess a daunting record at the Barnabau having not lost a game there since April 2011 – so Sir Alex knew his Manchester United side would have to be on top form to come away from the game with something.
Setting out with a compact side which included two holding midfielders in Jones and Carrick, it was obvious that containing the Madrid threat, Ronaldo in particular, was high on the priority list.
A front four of Van Persie, Rooney, Kagawa and Welbeck would always be enough the threaten any defence across Europe – so it was no surprise when United struck first through a Welbeck header.
Young England striker Danny Welbeck seemed somewhat of a surprise inclusion in the starting XI yet put in an outstanding display appearing on the wing but doing most damage when moved into the middle. At times his pace and power was simply too much for the Madrid defenders to cope with.
Wayne Rooney was very subdued and put in a more effective performance defensively than in attack. It was he that they feared the most prior to kick off – and the Madrid did well in closing him down quickly, at every opportunity.
Rooney’s strike partner Robin Van Persie missed a very good opportunity to win the game for United as well as forcing Deigo Lopez into two great saves; but for me it was the man at the opposite end to Lopez who stole the show.
David De Gea pulled of a string of world class saves and kept United in the game from very early on.
The Spanish shot stopper returned to his home country, perhaps with a point to prove having been in the spotlight over the past few weeks – and he was exceptional from start to finish.
Although United had the more clear cut chances and probably deserved a second goal, without De Gea between the sticks Madrid may have scored three or four and the tie could have been over before the second leg begins.
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