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Thursday, February 14, 2013

De Gea’s Safe Hands Thwarts Ronaldo and Co in Madrid

Leap of faith - CR7 draws Madrid level with a stunning header
Manchester United custodian David De Gea pulled one stunning save after another to help his team escape the Santiago Bernabeu with a valuable 1-1 draw in a UEFA Champions league last 16 encounter.

The much-criticized keeper made no less than eight brilliant saves to thwart Cristiano Ronaldo and co who announced their intentions to run riot as early as the 5th minute with De Gea palming away Fabio Contreao’s effort away. Madrid pressed the United defence with the verve of a home team as the visitors struggled to get hold of the game.

But one thing about Manchester United this season has been their ability to get a goal against the run of play and when it doesn’t look likely. A lesson they have taught their Premier League rivals so well, Madrid got a dose of the same in the 20th minute.

Wayne Rooney swung a corner into the penalty area which Danny Welbeck headed into the net with no Madrid player within his sight as United took a surprise lead. The goal stunned the over 75,000 Madrid supporters at the Santiago Bernabue. But not for long. Cristiano Ronaldo drew level against his former club at the half-hour mark when he leaped high above Patrice Evra’s shoulders to delightfully head in Angel Di Maria’s cross past De Gea.

Jose Mourinho’s men attacked for the rest of the half forcing De Gea into fine saves from Di Maria and Mesut Ozil.

The second half produced no more goals thanks to De Gea sticking out a foot to deny Contreao and Diego Lopez tipping Van Persie’s effort onto the bar before Xabi Alonso cleared the Dutchman’s goal bound effort when it was inches from crossing the goal line. The last effort of the game fell to CR7 whose dipping 35-yard freekick just went over the bar with De Gea beaten.

It would be premature to conclude that Sir Alex Fergusson’s men are favorites to sail through to the quarters but the away goal could prove vital in the return leg at Old Trafford on March 5th.

In another encounter, Borussia Dortmund twice came from behind to muster a 2-2 draw away to Shakhtar Donetsk at the Donbass Arena. Darijo Srna put the Ukrainian side ahead in at the half hour mark only for Robert Lewandowski to draw level ten minutes later.

Substitute Douglas Costa restored the home team’s lead with a 68th minute strike but Mats Hummels powerfully headed in three minutes before full time to give the Germans two vital away goals.  

The remaining four last 16 games will be played next week with last year’s finalists Bayern Munich traveling to London to face Arsenal on Tuesday as Porto welcome Malaga. AC Milan host Barcelona on Wednesday while Schalke 04 travel to Turkey for their tie against Galatasaray.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!