Ferguson hails display of ‘unbelievable’ Ronaldo

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson hailed Cristiano Ronaldo after the Real Madrid star rescued a 1-1 draw against his former side in last night’s Champions League last 16 first leg clash.

Danny Welbeck’s first-half header gave the Red Devils a precious away goal but Ronaldo also left his mark on the meeting with a brilliant equalising header.

Ferguson declared himself happy with the result — and confident that his side can complete the job at home — but was quick to praise his former protege.

“What a header. Unbelievable. You can’t stop that,” he said of the Portuguese’s goal.

“The spring, the way he holds himself in the air, the power in the header. I said to Patrice Evra at half time, ‘you didn’t challenge for that’. And when I saw the video I thought, ‘what was I talking about?’.

“I think it’s difficult for Cristiano playing against us, his old team. There’s a little bit of emotion attached to it for him because he had so many great years for us.

“But when he gets the ball you’re praying, more than anything.”

Thinking ahead to the return game, Ferguson added: “It will be very open. I think we’ll score at Old Trafford. We have a big job on our hands but it is definitely within our grasp.”

Real coach Jose Mourinho believes the tie remains finely balanced.

Mourinho said: “Nothing new. Not a surprising match, not a surprising result.

“I think basically [it was] what I was waiting for, which is everything very open for the second leg. As I was thinking, I think this will go to the last minute.

“They defended well and the result is open. If you ask me percentages, I don’t change one single number — 50/50.”

Mourinho remained upbeat about his side’s chances heading into the Old Trafford rematch on March 5. Asked whether the draw handed the advantage to United, he replied: “No. We can score more than one goal there.”

United striker Robin van Persie, who might have had a hat-trick on another night after spurning some inviting openings, was cautious in his assessment of the result.

Asked if his side were now in pole position, he said: “Slightly, [but] at this level these kind of teams don’t really care if they play home or away.

“It’s half time and we will be ready for the second half. People who have watched the game have seen chances for both sides. It was a great game to watch.”

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

Email Updates

Receive our lunchtime briefing straight to your inbox

More in this Section

Darren Randolph: Qualification race will go to the wire

Martin O’Neill counts on Seamus Coleman’s determination in recovery

Paddy Mulligan recalls Jimmy Holmes horror story following Coleman’s calamity

Olamide Shodipo to the rescue for Ireland


Breaking Stories

Conor Murray’s fitness hangs in balance ahead of Munster’s Champions Cup quarter-final

Robbie Brady to captain Ireland against Iceland

FIFA to pay Seamus Coleman's wages while he recovers from double leg-break

Dustin Johnson holds off Jon Rahm to win third title in succession

Lifestyle

Meet the US firefighter running the Cork City Marathon with his severely ill daughter

'You’re doing phenomenally well with brilliant men; why wouldn’t you want brilliant women too?'

Damien Enright: The fascinating Armoured Ground Crickets are perfect look-alikes for horror-film aliens

Jess Kavanagh is putting some real bite in her Barq

More From The Irish Examiner