classy touches. Giggs joined in too. The 39-year-old performed with the knowhow of a player who has played this occasion a hundred times and the enthusiasm of someone tasting it for the very first.
Despite United more than edging the balance of play, Real reminded of their threat on 33 minutes when Gonzalo Higuain had the ball in the back of the net. It was rightly chalked off for a prior Sergio Ramos foul on van Persie and United’s riposte was to go straight up the other end; van Persie chested down Evra’s long ball and beat Raphael Varane on the turn before lashing a left-foot shot at Lopez. Real’s shot-stopper reacted quickly to divert Welbeck’s rebound out for a corner and from Giggs’ inswinging cross Vidic headed over. The Serbian took a punch to the face from Lopez. He has experienced worse but in a way it neatly framed the first half: United’s intent to attack and the threat that Real might strike a counter blow.
Sir Alex’s half-time concern was not the manner of his side’s performance - far from it - but a worry that of the many chances created United hadn’t taken them. It took three minutes of the second half for his men to dispel those fears. Welbeck and then van Persie had shots blocked but when Nani collected the loose ball and fizzed it into the box, Welbeck’s slight touch of the ball deceived Ramos, who inadvertently turned it into the net.
Things were going so well. Then United’s plans were thrown into disarray on 56 minutes when Nani was unjustly sent off by Turkish