Real Madrid progressed to the semi-finals of the Champion’s League despite losing 4-3 on the night to Manchester United in a thrilling game at Old Trafford.
Ronaldo was the hero for the Spanish side, scoring a hat trick, which meant they went through 6-5 on aggregate.
Real took the lead tree times during the game, but replies from Van Nistelrooy, an Helguera an own goal, trademark a Beckham free kick brought the scored level. Substitute Beckham then scored from close range to win the mach on the night.
Afterwards, Real coach Vicente Del Bosque was delighted by the quality of football shown from both sides.
“What a fantastic game between two great sides,” said Del Bosque.
“The game could have gone either way at any stage. The supporters provided a great example and the players did too. A fantastic occasion.”
He had special praise for Ronaldo, who had come under criticism earlier in the season from the Spanish press and proved that he could easily cover up the loss of Raul.
“We managed to create just three chances for him and he took them all,” said the coach.
“He also battled throughout and gave us a great target to aim at.”
Ronaldo admitted his side’s thoughts were with Raul, who is currently suffering from appendicitis and that they wanted to win for him.
“He was never out of our thoughts. We missed him and hope that he returns very quickly,” said the Brazilian striker.
Alex Ferguson admitted that his side probably lost to the eventual winners.
“We wish Real Madrid every success,” said Ferguson. “They’ve got a marvelous chance now to win the cup. I’d find it hard to choose a team ahead of them.”
The United boss also defended his decision to start without Beckham, pointing out it would be unfair to drop Solskjaer after being in good form on the right wing.
“Solskj‘r on the right-hand side has been fantastic – he provided a real filip. I don’t regard Ole Gunnar Solskj‘r as a sub any longer,” he said.
Skipper Roy Keane was extremely disappointed that his side was eliminated and admitted it was defensive frailties that was probably costing his side success against the Spanish giants.
“We can’t keep giving goals away to teams like Real Madrid” explained Keane.
‘Once again we have had plenty of chances but we keep giving ourselves a mountain to climb and we haven’t been able to rise to the challenge.’
“We don’t need reminding that we keep giving the same kind of goals away.
“We have had plenty of disappointments in Europe now. We keep getting to the quarter-finals but it is that next step of going on to win the trophies.”
United still have the Premiership title to fight for this season, whileReal still have La Liga in their sights as well as defending their European title.
They are the only non-Italian side left in the competition and have to travel to Turin to play Juventus in the semi finals, who ironically United defeated in the group stage of the competition.