UEFA League: Best Team Lost, Says Mourinho

06 Mar 2013

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The referee’s red card to Manchester United's Nani turned the tie in Madrid’s favour


Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho has claimed "the best team lost" after 10-man Manchester United were knocked out of the Champions League.

United went ahead in the last-16 second leg tie before Nani was controversially dismissed for a high challenge.

Cristiano Ronaldo, on his return to Old Trafford, then tapped in the winner after Luka Modric's stunning equaliser, reports the BBC.

"Independent of the decision, the best team lost. We didn't deserve to win but football is like this," Mourinho said.

Following a 1-1 draw in Spain, United had edged a tight second-leg opening in which captain Nemanja Vidic struck the post with a powerful header.

They finally took the lead - on the night and on aggregate - at the start of the second half, when Sergio Ramos deflected Nani's cross into his own net.

The match then turned in Real's favour just before the hour mark when referee Cuneyt Cakir dismissed the Portuguese for a high boot that made contact with Alvaro Arbeloa's rib-cage.

Mourinho's side took advantage of the decision in clinical fashion. Former Tottenham player Modric curled in a sublime equaliser after he came off the substitute's bench, and Ronaldo scored from close range after a stylish move.

"My feeling is that Manchester United were playing very well, were very compact and aggressive in a good way," Mourinho added. "I doubt that 11 v 11 we win the match.

"I know Manchester United are giants, not just physically but mentally. I know they have a manager who can motivate then, but I was waiting for us to play in a different way."

Before kick-off, Ronaldo was given a warm reception by supporters at the club where he had played a pivotal role in the winning of the Champions League in 2008, as well as three Premier League titles, in a six-year spell in England.

The attacker - who moved to Real for a record £80m fee in 2009 - admitted he had been overwhelmed by the reaction.

"It was unbelievable," he said. "It was an emotional moment for me, for both games, but especially tonight.

"I do not have words to explain how I feel. The supporters made me feel shy. I did not play how I play all the time."

When asked to comment on rumours of a potential return to Old Trafford,  he replied: "The future I never know, but the supporters here and the club are massive.

"At this moment I am very happy in Madrid and I want to be there."

Meanwhile, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was too "distraught" to face the media after their Champions League exit against Real Madrid at Old Trafford.

Ferguson was visibly enraged after Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir sent off Nani for a high challenge on Real's Alvaro Arbeloa after 56 minutes with United leading through Sergio Ramos's own goal.

Real took advantage of the dismissal with quick goals from Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo on his return to Old Trafford to confirm a 2-1 win on the night and 3-2 aggregate victory to reach the last eight.
United assistant manager Mike Phelan replaced Ferguson at the post-match media conference and said: "It's a distraught dressing room and a distraught manager. That's why I am sitting here now.

"I don't think the manager is in any fit state to talk to the referee about the decision. It speaks volumes that I am sitting here now not the manager of this fantastic football club."

Phelan continued: "We are extremely disappointed and wondering what has happened and why it has happened.

"We feel as though we had the tactics right for the game on such a big occasion. We felt we were comfortable at 0-0. It was where we wanted to be, then we scored the goal that put us in a commanding position.

"We were in reasonable control and then the game totally changed. The decision was amazing but we had to carry on because it is hard enough playing Real Madrid with 11 men.

"Referees are there to make decisions but there is also an element of doing the right thing. All the media and a television audience watching all over the world will have an opinion on the decision but it was a disappointing one and it spoiled the game."  

Tags: Sports, World, UEFA League, Manchester United, MOURINHO

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