I was shivering. The buzz from the crowd, the faces of the players and the tense feeling of a big game made my legs tremble. The Champions League was back at Old Trafford. Not a group stage game against Braga or a rest the good players game against Cluj. This was a real Champions League game. The kind of game all United fans had been waiting for since the final at Wembley 2011 and the kind of game Old Trafford was built to host. The grass was as green as ever, the evening quiet, as if it was holding it’s breath and the fans just as loud yet nervous as we all want them to be. It was set up to be a night to remember. But how it will be remembered, is not the way I wanted.
Sir Alex Ferguson had chocked everyone by benching Rooney and put Welbeck and Nani on the pitch and though I was very sceptical to this decision, the old man seemed to have made the right move. United played well. They did not create a lot of chances, but still more than Real Madrid and it was with a good feeling I watched the teams leave the pitch after the first half. The back line had been strong, the midfielders and Welbeck had closed the Madrid midfield down and Giggs ran as if he was 20 again. The feeling was even greater when Sergio Ramos kicked the ball in his own net a few minutes into the second half and I felt that this was United’s evening. Then Cüneyt Çakır jumped into the headlines of the days to come.
Well, you all know what happened. Nani tried to bring the ball down but instead put his foot in Arbeloa’s chest and the referee gave Nani a strait red card. I’m not gonna write everything I said then here, partly because I don’t remember it all, partly because it’s not suitable in a blog, but I was probably as mad as sir Alex himself.
First of all. If the roles had been reversed and Arbeloa had kicked Nani, I would probably have yelled for a red card. Having said that, I think it’s a tough sending off. It’s definitely a foul and perhaps, since it was carelessly played, a yellow card, but not a red. Nani had no idea Arbeloa was coming towards him and therefor he’s play shouldn’t be considered violent. Careless yes, but violent no. And it’s just as disturbing that the referee waited so long and let the Madrid players talk to him before he showed the red card.
After that the game was lost. A few minutes later, Real Madrid had scored two goals and scoring two against Real Madrid with 10 men is not an easy task.
Now as the game is over, it feels like I’ve been robbed. Just as all other United fans out there I had longed for this so long and the feeling of a big Champions League game at Old Trafford again was so great that the sudden stop of it all feels like a bullet in my chest. We were back. We deserved to win. But we were robbed.
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