FOOTBALL NEWS

15/02/2013 18:30, Report by Nick Coppack

Rafael showing maturity

Sir Alex says Rafael da Silva’s performance at the Bernabeu on Wednesday night proved just how far the Brazilian has progressed in recent times.

Real Madrid targeted United’s right-hand side in the first 45 minutes and, by the United manager’s own admission, the young defender struggled to cope with the Spanish side’s attacks.

What’s more, Rafael was left treading a disciplinary tightrope when he was booked on 40 minutes for hauling down Mesut Ozil on the by-line.

The Daily Telegraph talked of Rafael being "tormented by a succession of white-shirted matadors", claiming the 22-year-old "must have felt as though he had strayed into the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas, Madrid’s most historic bullring, rather than the Bernabeu".

Sir Alex, speaking to MUTV, insists he never considered taking Rafael off at half-time and, sure enough, after the interval it was a different story.

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Game of two halves

"Rafa had a trying first half but he coped well in the second half. He calmed down. In the second half, he was back to the form he has shown all season."

– Sir Alex Ferguson

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