Real Madrid 1-1 Man Utd: De Gea steals the show
Alex Dunham/The Local/AFP · 14 Feb 2013, 14:35
Published: 14 Feb 2013 14:35 GMT+01:00
"It is your night," ran the headline of Madrid sports daily Marca next to a giant picture of Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of the star's first encounter with Manchester United, the club he left three and a half years ago.
Ronaldo, almost inevitably, did have his moment as he soared above a stranded Patrice Evra at the back post to majestically head home his seventh Champions League goal in as many games this season.
But on a pitch filled with stellar attacking talent, it was a Spanish goalkeeper making a return of his own, to his home city, who was the star of the show as the Champions League tie ended 1-1.
Photo: Dani Pozo/AFP
David de Gea had only ever suffered heartbreak, as most Atletico Madrid keepers do, against Real Madrid in his time with Real's city rivals.
But just five minutes into the widely-anticipated Champions League last-16 tie he diverted Fabio Coentrao's goalbound effort onto the post to keep United from sinking under an early Madrid storm.
Once that initial burst had been weathered, it was they who found the net first as the Spanish champions' Achilles heel for the past two seasons, defending set-pieces, was again exposed as Danny Welbeck directed Wayne Rooney's corner into the net.
Ten minutes later the moment United feared duly arrived as Ronaldo hung in the air a good three feet above his former French colleague to glance in a header so accurate even De Gea couldn't reach it.
With the tide now turned again and Madrid charging forward, De Gea continued to thwart chance after chance.
Coentrao, the man who has just one goal in his whole Real Madrid career, was left wondering how he didn't have two for the night as De Gea stretched out a long gangly leg to unconventionally turn away the Portuguese full-back's back-post effort from Sami Khedira's cross.
Several other top-class saves by the 22-year old keeper ensured his team stands in good stead for the return leg at Old Trafford.