BY JUSTIN FERGUSON
The Champions League Round of 16 continued on Wednesday with two thrilling draws, setting up intriguing return legs in a few weeks.
Real Madrid played out a thrilling 1-1 draw with Manchester United at the Bernabeu. The hosts controlled the beginning of the match, but it was United who got on the board first, scoring against the run of play in the 20th minute. Wayne Rooney’s corner kick found the head of a leaping Danny Welbeck, who shrugged off Sergio Ramos to put away the goal.
But Jose Mourinho’s squad kept up its attack against the United defense after the shocking goal. Real got its equalizer at the half hour mark when Cristiano Ronaldo skied to head in Angel Di Maria’s cross. The star midfielder calmly waved to the Madrid fans after the goal, opting not to celebrate a goal scored on his former team.
The final hour of the match was marked by some spectacular goalkeeping from MOTM David De Gea and new Real man Diego Lopez. De Gea, playing in front of his hometown crowd in Madrid, made seven saves in the match—including a fingertip push to the post that kept out a certain Fabio Coentrao goal. Lopez’s big moment came in the 75th minute when he redirected a powerful Robin van Persie shot off the crossbar.
The two European giants will meet Mar. 5 at Old Trafford for the return leg.
Here are some more stories to help wrap up your Wednesday:
DORTMUND SCORES LATE TO TIE SHAKHTAR DONETSK
While the drama in Madrid was playing out, Borussia Dortmund and Shakhtar Donetsk finished 2-2 in the Donbass Arena. The match started with a moment of silence in memory of the four Shakhtar fans that died in a plane crash on the way to Wednesday’s match.
Shakhtar’s Darijo Srna opened the scoring in the 31st minute off of a well-taken free kick from 25 yards out. Dortmund would equalize 10 minutes later on a somewhat comical goal from Robert Lewandowski. The Polish striker whiffed on a cross from Mario Gotze, causing two Shakhtar defenders to block a shot that never came. Lewandowski then collected the ball and calmly finished with the extra space.
The home side would get the lead back in the second half when substitute Douglas Costa laced a shot past Roman Weidenfeller only a few minutes into his appearance. Dortmund pushed hard for the equalizer and was rewarded for the effort in the 87th minute. Marcel Schmeltzer’s outswinging corner kick met the head of a charging Mats Hummels. The header found the back of the net, giving Dortmund two big away goals heading into the return leg.
FIFA PROVISIONALLY APPROVES DROGBA MOVE TO GALATASARAY
FIFA has given the go-ahead for Didier Drogba to start playing for Galatasaray, but the striker’s contract dispute with Shanghai Shenhua remains open.
The former Chelsea man can make his debut for the Turkish club this weekend in a league match with Akhisar. He is also eligible for Galatasaray’s Champions League matchup with Schalke, which starts next week. Drogba has been involved with the African Cup of Nations for the few weeks.
Shanghai Shenhua filed a complaint with FIFA shortly after Drogba’s transfer to Galatasaray was announced, saying that the Ivorian broke a contract that runs through 2014. If FIFA rules in favor of the Chinese club, Galatasaray could face a transfer embargo and Drogba could receive a ban.
David Beckham had his first training session with new club PSG on Wednesday and could potentially make his debut this weekend against Sochaux. (REPORT)
UEFA says it will review Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s suspension after the striker was red carded in Tuesday’s Champions League match with Valencia. (REPORT)
A Millwall fan was arrested for his involvement in racial abuse of Leeds United player El Hadji Diouf during a match in November. (REPORT)
A member of the French national team has been accused of soliciting an underage prostitute after the player’s cell phone number appeared on her phone records. (REPORT)
Liverpool has contacted UEFA with the club’s concerns about racial abuse its players may face in the Europa League tie with Zenit. (REPORT)
What do you think of these reports? What were your thoughts on today’s Champions League matches? How do you think the return legs will turn out? What kind of impact do you think Drogba will make at Galatasaray?
Share your comments below.