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Games we'll never forget: Man Utd 4 Real Madrid 3

Old Trafford, April 23rd 2003 - United win but Ronaldo steals the show

This night belonged to Ronaldo. An evening which showed the world football in its truest colours; a magical, mesmerising spectacle which unites us all in excitement and despair.

Coming into the game with a 3-1 lead from the first leg, the original Galacticos of Madrid knew they were big favourites, and with a star like Ronaldo leading the line, they could be forgiven for thinking that they were already through.

It took 12 minutes for a man many see as one of the best strikers of all time to make his impression. Collecting a precise Guti through ball, he smacked the ball into the corner at Barthez’s near post in the coolest of fashions. He wasn’t finished there.

Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s equaliser offered only brief respite. Ronaldo’s second goal put Real back in control, only to be cancelled out by Helguera’s own goal. No matter, the Brazilian majestically completing his hattrick. He was substituted to a standing ovation from the 67,000 inside Old Trafford.

Beckham’s double may have won the match for United, but they crashed out to a Real Madrid side who were playing some of the finest football the planet had ever seen - Ronaldo the flag bearer for a side that reminded us all why we call it the ‘beautiful game’.

By Max Clark



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