‘We had to ride our luck,’ admits Phil Jones after United grab draw in Madrid
PHIL JONES believes Manchester United have every reason to be delighted with their defensive efforts in Madrid last night.
Although Real dominated possession at times, the visitors never let their concentration waver.
No-one exemplified their spirit more than Jones, who was handed the job of limiting the threat posed by Cristiano Ronaldo.
He carried out the job superbly, although it says something about the standards Ronaldo has reached that even on a night when he was generally becalmed, the Portugal superstar still managed to score Real's first-half equaliser.
"I was told a few days ago I would be playing and I knew what I had to do," said Jones.
"He is the main threat for Madrid. The gaffer told me I had to be wary of Ronaldo and if he made runs inside I had to follow him.
"Once or twice he escaped, which was a wake up call because he is so sharp but overall I thought we dealt with it well."
In fact, most of the threat to United came from others, with Fabio Coentrao twice forcing David de Gea into excellent saves and playmaker Mesut Ozil also coming close.
"There are other players who can cause you a hell of a lot of problems," said Jones.
"They are a great team and you know they are going to create something. It is about how many chances you are going to give them.
"I thought we limited them to only a few.
"You have to ride your luck at times but we defended really well all over the pitch.
"Now we have to repeat the same performance at Old Trafford."
The tie is so finely balanced it is still too close to call, with United's precious away goal levelling up the obvious threat Ronaldo will pose on his return to a ground where he spent six spectacular years.
However, for all the pressure they had to withstand, United know it could have been even better for them.
Danny Welbeck was agonisingly close to nicking a second before half-time, then after the interval, Robin van Persie failed with the kind of gilt-edged opportunity you would normally expect him to snaffle without a second thought.
And in stoppage time, Van Persie thought he had made amends, only for Diego Lopez to tip round a shot that was heading for the far corner.
"The lads are disappointed in the changing room because we all felt that we could have scored more than one goal," said Jones.
"With a bit more luck some of those chances might have gone in.
"I suppose it was a bit of a backs-to-the wall job. But the manager said we had to show some more belief in the second half and if Robin's effort had gone in and the one at the end it could have been 3-1.
"Now we have to treat the game as 0-0 really and go out and beat them at Old Trafford."