Mourinho says tie still finely balanced
Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho felt the tie with Manchester United remained finely balanced at “50-50” after the 1-1 draw in last night’s first leg.
“Nothing new. Not a surprising match, not a surprising result. I think basically (it was) what I was waiting for, which is everything very open for the second leg. As I was thinking, I think this will go to the last minute,” Mourinho said.
Asked if the meeting had resembled a game of chess, the Portuguese replied: “For them – not for us. They changed their way of play. They had the block very, very low in the second half. I think Rio (Ferdinand) and (Jonny) Evans – they didn’t put one foot in our own half. They were waiting for a set-piece or a counter-attack.
“They defended well and the result is open. If you ask me percentages, I don’t change one single number – 50/50.”
Mourinho remained upbeat about his side’s chances heading into the second leg at Old Trafford on March 5th.
Asked whether the draw handed the advantage to United, he replied: “No. We can score more than one goal there.” He added: “They had two big chances in the second half, but chances out of context because we were chasing the game and they were just defending.
“This is the Champions League and there are two matches, home and away. They did their match and they did it well.”
Alex Ferguson declared himself happy with the result – and confident that his side can complete the job at home – but was quick to praise his former protege and Old Trafford favourite Ronaldo.
“What a header. Unbelievable. You can’t stop that,” he said of the Portuguese’s goal. “The spring, the way he holds himself in the air, the power in the header. I said to Patrick Evra at half-time, ‘you didn’t challenge for that’. And when I saw the video I thought, ‘what was I talking about?’.
“I think it’s difficult for Cristiano playing against us, his old team. There’s a little bit of emotion attached to it for him because he had so many great years for us. But when he gets the ball you’re praying, more than anything.”
Assessing a busy and eventful 90 minutes, Ferguson added: “There were a lot of incidents in the game. We had lots of chances in the match and played some good attacking football at times but we did not get the possession we should have had.
“Real won possession without question, but it takes us back to Old Trafford with a great chance.
“It will be very open. I think we’ll score at Old Trafford. We have a big job on our hands but it is definitely within our grasp.”