Madrid, Spain – Manchester United put itself in prime position to advance to the Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday as the Red Devils battled Real Madrid to a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu.
Danny Welbeck found the net for United to give the English giants a leg up in the all-important away goals tally, but Cristiano Ronaldo scored against his former team for Madrid to level the score heading into the second leg of this marquee Round-of-16 matchup at Old Trafford on March 5.
Madrid had the upper hand early on with a great chance just six minutes into the contest as Fabio Coentrao collected a ball just on the edge of the area and fired a low shot that United goalkeeper David De Gea just got a hand to before it careened off the far post and rolled through the box.
The Red Devils struck first against the run of play in the 20th minute when Wayne Rooney lofted a corner kick into the penalty area and Welbeck rose high and nodded a perfectly-placed header past Madrid goalkeeper Diego Lopez and into the bottom-right corner for the 1-0 edge.
10 minutes later, it was Ronaldo who found the equalizer for the hosts. Angel Di Maria came through with a fantastic assist for Ronaldo when he put a right- footed cross into the box and the Portuguese superstar got up high and directed a header just inside the post, past the outstretched arm of De Gea to put the sides back on level terms.
Ronaldo, who played with Manchester United for six seasons from 2003-2009 before departing for Spain, has scored 14 goals in his last 16 Champions League matches.
Both teams had chances leading up to the break as Rooney sent one just past Lopez's near post in the 34th minute and Ronaldo countered for the hosts three minutes before the interval when he corralled a ball just outside the box and unleashed a wicked left-footed strike, but it sailed over the bar to keep the teams even at the break.
After the intermission, it was Madrid who pushed to go in front in the 61st minute as Sami Khedira floated a beautiful cross into the area for a diving Coentrao, who got a foot to it with a sliding volley, but De Gea was there to make the save.
20 minutes from time, United had a pair of excellent chances as Rooney went streaking down the center of the park before laying it off on the right wing to Robin Van Persie, who rang it off the right post. Just moments later, Van Persie had another spectacular opportunity from eight yards out, but he scuffed the shot, which allowed Di Maria to track back and clear it off the line.
The match ended with a bit of controversy as a volley by Van Persie in the dying moments was parried behind by Lopez for a corner kick, which seemingly gave United one last chance.
But the visitors were not permitted to take the kick as the final whistle blew to conclude things all square. United has not lost this term when Welbeck scores
Shakhtar Donetsk 2, Borussia Dortmund 2
Donetsk, Ukraine - Borussia Dortmund gained the upper hand in its Round-of-16 Champions League tie with Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday after playing to a 2-2 draw at Donbass Arena.
Just days after Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp announced that his club was too far behind Bayern Munich to retain its Bundesliga crown, the side responded with an inspired effort, rallying from a goal down on two separate occasions to get the all-important result on the road.
Shakhtar struck first in the 31st minute with a fantastic set-piece by Darijo Srna, who fired a beautiful, curling free kick over the wall and past Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller for the 1-0 advantage.
But, the German champions were unfazed as Robert Lewandowski leveled it for Dortmund four minutes from the break.
The Polish international used a bit of good fortune to his advantage as Mario Gotze lofted one into the penalty area from the right wing and Lewandowski brought the ball down but whiffed on his first shot attempt. The miss faked out a pair of Shakhtar defenders and Lewandowski was able to easily slip it past Shakhtar goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov.
After the intermission, Shakhtar grabbed the lead in the 68th minute through Douglas Costa, who controlled a long ball into the box and fired it past Weidenfeller on the volley to give the hosts the lead,
With just three minutes remaining, Dortmund went back on level terms as Mats Hummels sprinted into the area and nodded a powerful header past Pyatov to put his club in control of the tie as things shift to Signal Iduna Park for the second leg on March 6.