by Darren Walsh

Not a great start for RTE: Liam Brady starts to talk about the Man Utd team, and we see the Madrid line-up instead.
Modric on the bench….I’ll allow myself a slight smile there.

Neither of these defences on paper look particularly strong to me; plenty of goals could be on the cards tonight.

Ronaldo is seen in a shot from earlier posing for pictures with a charity that he has donated money to. He has a slightly confused look on his face, possibly wondering what type of bank would cash such an oversized novelty cheque.

Pitchside with commentators George Hamilton and Ray Houghton; George is well wrapped up from the cold while Ray looks like he’s just arrived from a construction site with a check shirt and what looks like a very old woollen jumper.

White flags are flying as the teams walk out; it might be white hankies in the air if Madrid fail to perform tonight.

Jose is pairing a snood with his suit tonight; watch every manager do that now.

Three decent shooting opportunities in the first five minutes for Madrid; the third coming from Coentrao and hitting the inside of the post. There is obviously a slight touch by de Gea too, having seen it on the replay. After three looks at it, Houghton still can’t decide if he can see it. Finally on the fourth go and in super slow-motion, he spots it.

Hmm, Ramos with a swinging elbow that hurts Evans, just minutes after van Persie was booked for a much more unintentional elbow on him. Looks like we won’t be seeing any consistency from the referee tonight either.

Ha, Ramos really is showing all the reasons why I think he’s the most overrated defender in Europe. Just after that sly elbow, he letsWelbeck get away from him on a corner and has to watch him nod in the opening goal.

For all the talk of his dribbling, and free kick taking, there’s really is no one else who attacks a cross like Ronaldo nowadays. He gets up so high and bullets it into the bottom corner for the equaliser.

Straight away, Welbeck almost takes the lead back for Utd, meeting a cross with his studs that Lopez touches with his back and directs past the post.

Jose is stalking up and down the technical area, gesticulating wildly. This is not the type of game he likes. It’s too open with one chance after the other. But with these backlines, how could it be any other way?

Evra loses the ball upfield and Madrid break. Ozil should shoot but crosses instead, and the chance is gone.

Rafael may well be a promising player, but he’s having all kinds of trouble. Of course Ronaldo will make anyone look bad, but he’s charging into players and has also been booked when he got tricked by Ozil.

Appeal for a penalty as Di Maria charges through to reach a ball. Jones “eases” him away from it when he didn’t really need to do anything. Don’t give the ref a chance to please the home crowd, you fool!

Ronaldo with a close range header that he flashes past the post.

Can I just say what a pleasure it is to watch this after the **** on a stickiness of certain games last season?

Halftime, I think the watchers need a little break as much as the players after all that.

That BetFair ad really is something, with the guy sweating on the Man Utd-Everton game from last season and wondering if he should cash out before the end of the game. It almost looks like an anti-betting ad, the way the main character is worrying over the situation.

We’ve started the second half much as the first one finished; another goal chance with Welbeck this time almost reaching a cross.

There’s talk that Mourinho came out of the changing room early and sat down in the dugout five minutes before the start of the half. I’d like to think his team talk consisted of calling them all a bunch of losers and then sauntering out of the room.

George Hamilton has been pronouncing Coentrao as Quattro all game. He’s either making a genuine mistake or he’s worked out an advertising deal with Audi for tonight.

Di Maria has really come out shooting tonight. Some shots have been better than others, but the latest one should have been a cross, instead it’s deflected and an easy catch for de Gea.

Welbeck with cramp as we creep near the seventy minute mark. It seems early for that but it’s a sign that no one has worked harder than him tonight.

The pace of the game has slowed since halftime, but all of a sudden Ronaldo has a near post chance, then van Persie hits the bar with a right footer, then Di Maria makes an awful clearance to set up another shot for the Dutchman. He doesn’t connect properly, but it’s still going in until Alonso clears off the line.

Modric is on. My night will be made if he is the cause of a United goal.

Ozil will never become a world class player unless he learns to shoot more. He’s just a glorified Alexandr Hleb right now. Khedira eventually gets a shot on goal from that move but de Gea takes it cleanly.

Ah, Pepe is on, always liable to cause some entertainment. Or kick someone’s head in, which could also be classified as entertainment of course.

35 yard free kick attempt from Ronaldo just over the top of the bar. Gareth Bale would have stuck that away! (Joking)

Ray Houghton asks if that might be Madrid’s last chance. There’s five minutes left; safe to say there’ll be another shot or two at least.

The chance comes, but the ball won’t land for Ronaldo and Utd spirit it away. With ten seconds left, THAT’S Madrid’s last chance.

Turns out there’s time for a Utd one too, as van Persie shoots from the left angle and Lopez saves low. No time for the corner though, which doesn’t make the Utd players too happy.

Lot of talk among the RTE panel about how Rooney played. They all agree that he wasn’t in a position to win the game for Utd, and I’m already seeing criticism of him online for not doing much, but it’s not his fault that he was played out of position. He did a job for the team, but that won’t matter to the tweeters.

As for the tie itself, it’s wide open. As foretold, Madrid weren’t brilliant, but they can counter attack with pace and will have more of a chance to do that at Old Trafford. A winner can still not be predicted with confidence.