CRISTIANO RONALDO refused to celebrate his goal during last night’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United out of respect for his six years with the Old Trafford club.
Ronaldo scored Real Madrid’s first-half equaliser after Danny Welbeck had put the visitors ahead in the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie at the Bernabeu.
Instead of celebrating, the former world player of the year opted to acknowledge the Real fans before making an almost apologetic gesture to the Red Devils dug-out.
“I was in Manchester for six years so tonight was very emotional for me,” the Portuguese said.
“I scored a goal but I didn’t celebrate out of respect.
“Maybe United are favourites now, maybe not.
Anything can happen.
“Sometimes we are better away than at home so we will see.
‘‘It will be amazing to play at Old Trafford again after four years. It will be another emotional night.”
Sir Alex Ferguson revealed Ronaldo went into the United dressing room to speak with his old team-mates.
“I spoke to him. He is sitting in our dressing room, talking to the lads,’’ said the United boss.
“He had six years with us and I am proud of how he flourished.
“I blamed Patrice Evra for not challenging for his goal until I saw the replay and felt a bit stupid.
“His knee is about as high as Evra’s head – phenomenal.
“I don’t think any other player in the world can do that, certainly not Messi.”
Ferguson said he would have accepted the result prior to kick-off.
However, it required a series of outstanding saves from David de Gea to ensure the tie remained deadlocked.
“De Gea was excellent,’’ Ferguson said. ‘‘He made three or four top saves.
“He has been improving all season.
“There was one save in the first half which he touched onto the post (from Coentrao) which was superb.
‘‘I am pleased for him. He is an Atletico boy playing here in Madrid, but he has done well.”
Ferguson also had words of praise for United’s other stand-out performer Welbeck.
‘‘He was marvellous,’’ said Ferguson.
‘‘It is a pity he got cramp at the end of game, but he worked so hard.
‘‘It was only second goal of season.
‘‘We expected more, but he is young.
‘‘They found it difficult to handle him.’’ Ferguson revealed he left out skipper Nemanja Vidic as a direct consequence of United’s Premier League encounter with Everton being shifted to last Sunday.
‘‘If we had played on the Saturday, the extra day would have suited me, but he plays one game every eight or nine days and still has to manage his comeback from injury,’’ said Ferguson.
‘‘Rio is exactly the same, and the type of game on Sunday suited Vidic more.’’