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Millennium Post

Valiant Honours Shared even

It was billed as the game of the season and the Champions League last-16 first leg tie between Real Madrid and Manchester United lived up to the billing as the two clubs ended the night in a 1-1 stalemate.

Ninety minutes of thrilling football ended in a draw Wednesday, thanks to goals from Danny Welbeck and Cristiano Ronaldo.

It was a game both sides could have won and although Real Madrid did more attacking, Manchester United also had golden chances to have taken a better result home for the return leg.

Both coaches sprang surprises in their starting 11 with Rafael Varene preferred ahead of Pepe, while Xabi Alonso was included in Jose Mourinho’s side despite a pelvic injury.

As expected the game started like an express train with Fabio Coentrao seeing David De Gea getting enough of a touch to divert his sixth minute shot onto the United post, while at the other end, Kagawa and Van Persie.

Real Madrid were doing most of the attacking, but United opened the scoring as Welbeck easily beat Ramos to nod home a corner after 20 minutes.

The home side reacted strongly, forcing a series of corners before Ronaldo saw a shot flash past the post after a rebound from a free kick.

He made no mistake just before the half hour with a magnificent header to level the scores following a cross from the left, although he didn’t celebrate out of respect for his former club.

De Maria twice went close for Madrid in the opening minutes of the second half, but saw one shot saved by De Gea and another go wide.

Coentrao was denied by a flying save by De Gea as Real Madrid replaced Benzema with Higuain to give more aggression to their attack. The closing minutes saw United sit deep to defend the result to take back to Old Trafford in three weeks time which promises aplenty of action at stake.


DORTMUND GET TWO AWAY GOALS


Germany defender Mats Hummels said Borussia Dortmund are relishing their Champions League last 16, second-leg, clash at home to Shakhtar Donetsk in a fortnight after Wednesday’s 2-2 draw in Ukraine.

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.

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.

The draw means Dortmund are unbeaten in Europe and Hummels said Dortmund have all to play for in the second leg at Borussia’s Signal Iduna Park on March 5.

‘It is important that we are going into the second leg level and a 0-0 would see us through,’ said Hummels.

‘Certainly there were a few dangerous moments in defence, but against such an attack-minded team you can never avoid this.

‘We were twice behind, so that is a fantastic consolation result.’
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