Cristiano Ronaldo admitted he felt “sad” after his goal ended former club Manchester United’s involvement in the UEFA Champions League and put Real Madrid in the quarter-finals.
The Portugal forward struck a 69th-minute winner at Old Trafford yesterday as Madrid fought from behind to earn a 2-1 win on the night and a 3-2 aggregate victory. The 28-year-old, who spent six highly successful seasons at United, received a round of applause prior to kick-off and made a point of not celebrating his winning goal.
“The reception was unbelievable. It was an emotional moment for me, for both games, especially tonight,” Ronaldo said. “I do not have words to explain how I feel. The supporters made me feel shy as I did not play how I play all the time. Anyway I helped my team, and I feel a little happy inside. On the other hand I feel sad as Manchester United are out.”
The game’s turning point arrived in the 56th minute, when Ronaldo’s international colleague Nani was shown a straight red card for a high challenge on Alvaro Arbeloa. Nani had forced Sergio Ramos to put through his own goal eight minutes earlier, but Madrid immediately capitalised on his dismissal, with Luka Modric equalising in the 66th minute before Ronaldo notched the winner.
“To be honest, I did not see what Nani did, but these situations happen in football,” Ronaldo said.
Meanwhile, Mike Phelan, United assistant manager said that the Red Devils have put the loss behind them as the focus now is on winning the English league and the FA Cup.
“Disappointment in football is a part of the game. For us as a football club, we’ve been here before and we shall bring the players together again, possibly Thursday (tomorrow), and we’ll have a look at certain things. We will kick on now, it’s very important we finish the season well. We’re in the FA Cup and we also have a great opportunity in the league. I’m sure that will drive the players on to achieve something,” he said.