Both Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson were in agreement that Manchester United’s tie with Real Madrid remains the balance after a hugely enjoyable 1-1 draw between the sides in their Champions League last-16 first leg at the Bernabeu last night.
Danny Welbeck’s early opener was cancelled out by a brilliant header by Cristiano Ronaldo – who else? – against his former club and though Madrid pressed for a winner, the score remained level at half-time in the tie as Los Blancos were denied by an inspired David de Gea.
The 1-1 scoreline leaves Madrid needing to score at Old Trafford in three weeks’ time to stand any chance of progressing to the last eight, leaving Mourinho to regret that Real could not find a winning goal.
“We had enough chances to score more than one,” he said. “We had the initiative all the game and we played against a team with lots of payers covering their own area. United did their job well.
“They came here not to concede space and goals and they didn’t play to win. I won’t criticise what they did – they got the result they wanted.”
Even so, Mourinho was characteristically bullish about his side’s chances of scoring in Manchester and knocking United out – just as the former Chelsea boss did with Porto en route to winning the Champions League in 2004.
He added: “We can score at Old Trafford. Many teams have done so at Old Trafford and no team with our attacking quality has played there. I am confident and 100% sure we can do this. It is 50-50; it is a draw. They scored an away goal and we can do that as well.
“I like to play first game at home because when you play first game away, the tendency is to be unhappy with the score. When you play [the] second game away, you know how you need to approach the game.
“When we get to Old Trafford we are behind and need to score. If we score, we go ahead, so it is very easy and we know what to do.”
Ferguson declared himself pleased with a result that leaves United a clean sheet away from the last eight.
“Before the game we would have taken 1-1, without question. It is a difficult place to come to – their home record is outstanding,” he said.
The Scot also agreed with his Portuguese counterpart that the tie is in the balance.
“Yes, I think it is,” he said. “It could go either way now. It really depends on who scores the first goal. The team that scores first will have a good chance.”
The bookies at bwin also agree, making both sides 17/20 to qualify for the next round, with that quote on Real being the best you will find anywhere.
In terms of the second leg, Manchester United are 9/5 to win inside 90 minutes, with Madrid 13/10 and the draw at 5/2, and you can place all your bets on that clash right here.