A horrendous decision by Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir to send Nani off for a second-half foul on Alvaro Arbeloa allowed Real Madrid to beat 10-man United 2-1 on the night.
United were leading 1-0 on the night (2-1 on aggregate) thanks to a Sergio Ramos own goal, but the sending off completely turned the game around.
Mourinho immediately brought on Luka Modrid and he helped Madrid score two goals in three minutes to effectively end this tie.
In the last 10 minutes United once again exposed the soft underbelly that is Real Madrid’s defence, but stand-in goalkeeper Diego Lopez made two or three terrific saves to preserve the win for Jose Mourinho’s side.
Before the red card the tie was poised on a knife’s edge. United, playing more like an away side, seemed content to cede possession to Madrid, but Real Madrid could not find a way through the United defence.
In the first half United goalkeeper David De Gea, who was player of the game in the first leg, was basically a bystander in the first half. And it was United who created the best two chances in the first half, but Danny Welbeck could not put either of them away.
Then three minutes into the second half United went ahead when Nani’s cross was turned into his own goal by Ramos.
United then sat back and were content to close the gaps and protect their lead. This Man United performance reminded me of Barcelona Champions League semi-final in 2008 when United took the lead from a Scholes rocket, and then road out the Barca pressure to win the game and progress to the final.
United did a great job denying Madrid any clear chances and as time passed, it looked unlikely that Madrid would score. Then came the red card that changed everything.
Mourinho immediately brought on Modric for Arbeloa and the former Spurs player proceeded to turn in his best performance in a Madrid shirt. His curling effort from 25 yards was a thing of beauty and it tied the match and tie.
Then two minutes later, Rafael who was brilliant, fell asleep for 30 seconds and Ronaldo turned in Higuain’s cross at the back post to give Madrid the lead.
Before the Ronaldo goal, Real Madrid had dominated the game since the sending off, but after scoring Mourinho immediately pulled off Ozil and replaced him with Pepe. The move allowed the 10-man United side to get back into the game and in the last 15 minutes they created three good chances to get back into the game. But they ran into Diego Lopez, who was terrific and stopped everything thrown at him.
As for United, when they look back over the two games, they will point to the missed opportunities spurned by Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck in both games. Sir Alex will also look at the coming of age of David De Gea, Rafael, Cleverly, Jones and Welbeck and that the future at Old Trafford looks very bright.