Manchester United versus Real Madrid left red mist rising

Fans were shocked, Alex Ferguson dumbstruck and commentators silent as Cuneyt Cakir’s dismissed Nani.

Shehan Rayer March 07, 2013
Manchester United 1 – 2 Real Madrid (2-3 on aggregate)


The script was written for another magical night of European football at the “Theater Of Dreams.” The Red Devils lay in wait as the Spanish armada sailed into Manchester bearing their prodigal son, more commonly known as Ronaldo, for the return leg of their clash.

However, neither the magic of the night nor the mania of Ronaldo’s return was to take centre stage. A hasty revision had been made; the story line altered the plot thrown asunder.

A rollercoaster game that began with the sheer disbelief at Wayne Rooney’s omission from the starting line up, to the scenes of pure delight as United went 1-0 ahead in the 48th minute to the sheer shock that echoed around the hallowed ground at Nani’s 56th minute dismissal. A red mist had descended on Manchester and was delivered via the Turkish referee, Cüneyt Çakır.

In the minutes counting down to kick off, it seemed as if José Mourinho's pre-match forecast was spot on.
“The world will stop to watch” and it certainly did.

It was the 56th minute and for that rare split second in football no one knew what to do or say.

Fans were shocked, Alex Ferguson dumbstruck and commentators silent.

Yes, the world was a witness to one of the worst refereeing decisions to grace the Champions League in the last decade.

Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir’s dismissed Nani after his boot connected with Alvaro Arbeloa's chest as they went for a high ball.

No way back: Nani is sent off by Turkish official Cuneyt Cakir for his challenge on Alvaro Arbeloa

The result?

A subpar Madrid quickly made their man advantage count by equalising through Modric and as fate had destined went ahead for the final time through Cristiano Ronaldo. 

The conclusion

United are no longer on course for the treble and it will take all of Fergie’s managerial prowess to ensure this result does not derail what until last night had seemed the grandest of all seasons.

As for Madrid, they march on towards a shot at a title they value above all others. A title that will tilt history back in their favour and leave José Mourinho (should they win) king of the footballing world!

“The best team lost the match”

In just one sentence, José Mourinho placed himself at the top of every Manchester United fans wish list to replace Alex Ferguson once the great man decides it's time. A brilliant move!

Phone home: Nani is consoled by Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford - but the winger was so upset he had to call a pal in Portugal

On a final note, the odds on the Asian betting line for a 3-1 Madrid victory were absolutely astonishing given that they were playing United at Old Trafford.

This match has to go under the microscope.

It may seem like sour grapes to some, but it is a coincidence that cannot be ignored.  Match-fixing happens in every sport from cricket to baseball. It is ludicrous to think football is immune.

It is no longer about United or this one match, the integrity of the sport is set to be called into question and it’s about time it was.

Read more by Shehan here, or follow him on Twitter @ShehanRayer
Shehan Rayer Former writing enthusiast turned journalist turned Radio Jockey; still a writing enthusiast and a Radio Jockey. He tweets @ShehanRayer (
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