VIDEO OF THE WEEK: The day Manchester United were stunned into applause
Last week’s corresponding video of the week (where Ronaldinho had the Bernabeu applaud him off the pitch) got us thinking about other examples where great players have commanded the respect of opposition fans in big games.
That theme takes us back to Wednesday April 23, 2003, where (fat) Ronaldo sunk Manchester United in a tumultuous Champions League tie at Old Trafford. As BBC Sport reported that day:
Ronaldo single-handedly wrecked Manchester United’s Champions League dreams with a virtuoso display at Old Trafford. Real Madrid’s Brazilian superstar scored a stunning hat-trick to destroy United’s ambition of reaching the final on home soil in May.
Not particularly fast nor especially strong, Ronaldo epitomises the old style no.9 of the early 2000s, maximising his positional nous and tremendous finishing to be a game-changing world beater. Not many oppositon players ever leave Old Trafford as a winner, let alone with applause from the home fans, and this performance is a testament to a wonderfully skilled player.
This side was the first product of Florentino Perez’s Galatico policy, and this Madrid starting XI boasted what was probably the best selection of individual players at the time. Creatively built around the superlative Zinidine Zidane, a wonderful no.10, anchored by the self-invented destroyer of Claude Makelele and supplemented by the likes of Roberto Carlos and Luis Figo, this Madrid side should probably have won more than it did (they only won La Liga in 2001 and 2003, and the Champions League in 2001). There’a a stream of literature as to why that was the case which would be silly to go into now, but regardless of the silverware that this side produced, performances of this calibre truly showcase how good they were when they performed. On an aside, this period signified the beginning of the end for David Beckham, who would later join Madrid that summer for £25m.
Madrid would go onto the semi finals as the only non-Italian team playing in the tournament. There, they lost 3-4 Juventus, who in turn would lose to Milan on penalties in a final staged at Old Trafford.