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Real Madrid 1-1 Man Utd: De Gea steals the show

Manchester United's 22-year-old keeper David de Gea made several top-class saves as Alex Ferguson's side secured a 1-1 first-leg Champions League draw in the Bernabeu.

Real Madrid 1-1 Man Utd: De Gea steals the show
David de Gea reacts after his outstanding performance against Real Madrid. Photo: Dani Pozo/AFP

"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. 

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FOOTBALL

Black Lives Matter: Marcelo ‘takes the knee’ to celebrate Real Madrid win

Marcelo celebrated by taking a knee as Real Madrid returned from three months away following the coronavirus suspension by beating Eibar 3-1 on Sunday.

Black Lives Matter: Marcelo 'takes the knee' to celebrate Real Madrid win
Real Madrid's Brazilian defender Marcelo kneels on the field to celebrate his goal. Photo: AFP

After scoring Madrid's third goal in the 37th minute, Marcelo dropped onto his left knee and raised his clinched right fist into the air, apparently in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Madrid's win may have come at a cost as Eden Hazard and Sergio Ramos were both substituted early in the second half and were seen with ice packs strapped to them while sitting in the stands.

Hazard was making his first start since February and his ice pack appeared to be around his troublesome right ankle, which he injured in November and February, before undergoing surgery in March.

“We knew Eden would lack a bit of rhythm playing the whole game,” coach Zinedine Zidane said.

“He played well for an hour, he took a knock which was a scare but at half-time he said he was fine. He is happy with what he has done and we are happy with him.”

Madrid's win means they reduce the gap behind league leaders Barcelona back to two points after the Catalans thrashed Real Mallorca 4-0 on Saturday.    

Madrid struck in the fourth minute after a superb strike from Toni Kroos before Ramos tucked away Hazard's pass on the counter-attack.    

Eibar pulled one back in the second half through Pedro Bigas but never found the second to make Madrid nervous, despite a brief spell of pressure.    

Before going off, Hazard was busy, the Belgian involved in all three goals.    

His weaving run through midfield led to Kroos' shot and it was his effort that was cleared out to Marcelo, who drove into the corner.    

After a miserable opening season in Spain, it was a bright start for Hazard, who could now redeem himself by playing a crucial role in the run-in, if he can stay injury-free.

Perhaps even more impressive though was Karim Benzema, who linked up brilliantly with Hazard and was unfortunate not to get the goal an excellent all-round performance deserved.

Gareth Bale started on the bench but came on and could start against Valencia on Thursday.

Zidane is likely to rotate heavily over the next few weeks, with the games coming thick and fast.

New surroundings

Madrid's coach will also have been pleased to get off to a positive start in their new training ground home, which was the 100th different stadium to be used in La Liga.

They will be playing all their remaining home matches at the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium to allow renovation work at the Santiago Bernabeu to continue this summer.

“We know the situation, it's all a bit strange,” said Zidane. “But the players are all champions and we have to get our heads around it.”    

Barca had needed less than two minutes to score against Mallorca and Madrid were only slightly later, as Hazard broke through Eibar's midfield and Casemiro set Benzema free.

The ball was cleared to Kroos on the edge of the area, who struck first time, sidefooting perfectly into the far top right-hand corner.   

Ramos doubled their advantage after starting, and finishing, a ruthless counter-attack. In between, Benzema and Hazard were involved again, the former picking out the latter, who generously gave Ramos an open goal.

Marcelo put Eibar all but out of sight before half-time as Benzema played through for Hazard and his shot spilled out to Marcelo to lash into the corner.

Eibar were better after the break as Edu Exposito forced a full-stretch save from Thibaut Courtois and then Sergi Enrich headed against the crossbar. 

Bigas did score after diverting in Pedro Leon's shot but Madrid held on.    

Earlier, Diego Costa scored his first goal since October but Atletico Madrid missed the chance to move into La Liga's top four by drawing 1-1 away at Athletic Bilbao.

Costa celebrated by holding up the shirt of Virgina Torrecilla, a player from Atletico's women's team, who underwent surgery on a brain tumour last month.

His equaliser came two minutes after the excellent Iker Muniain had given Bilbao the lead towards the end of the first half and neither side could find a winner at the empty San Mames, with Atletico defender Santiago Arias missing the best chance late on.

Diego Simeone's side stay sixth, level on points with Getafe and one behind Real Sociedad, who were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Osasuna.

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