A calamitous boob by apologetic referee Ryszard Wojcik had a major hand in United's 3-2 Champions League defeat by Real Madrid, leaving manager David O'Leary in philosophical mood.

The Polish official trooped into the Leeds dressing room after the final whistle to hold his hands up to his first half blunder that allowed the current European champions to equalise just a minute after Alan smith had put Leeds ahead as early as the sixth minute.

Raul's blatant handball was evident to all in the Bernabeu except the one man who counted and then to make matters worse a freak bounce on a shot from Luis Figo deceived Nigel Martyn to put Real ahead shortly before half-time.

Mark Viduka brought Leeds level early in the second half, but Raul - ever the opportunist - legally grabbed the winner legally with his head on the hour mark.

David O'Leary, who despite knowing that his side are through to the quarter-finals regardless of this result, that was left shaking his head in disbelief at the second decision in five days that had cost Leeds dear.

The Leeds boss said: "The first goal is a handball, the second is a freak and we should have had a penalty at the end when Alan Smith got his toes stood on in the box.

"I am immensely proud of my players and it matters not a jot that we are going into the quarter-finals as group runners up.

"It takes a big man to come in and admit that he made a mistake of that magnitude. But the referee did that and he apologised for it.

"He said he did not see it and if he didn't see it he couldn't give the decision."

Real coach Del Bosque said: "I don't want to talk about the referee. I don't talk about referees. You will have to ask Raul.

It has been a great game for everyone and we had to over come a very stubborn opponent.

"Leeds are an excellent side who play great football, creating many chances. I admire them."

The other blow for United was an injury to  Lucas Radebe.

The Leeds skipper was stretchered off with a knee injury in the 65th minute of the Champions League tie.

The South African defender will have a scan on Wednesday which will determine how long he will be sidelined.

But team-mate Rio Ferdinand is hopeful Radebe will not be sidelined for too long.

Ferdinand said: "Lucas was in good spirits in the dressing room after the game. Hopefully he will be OK for next week's match against Lazio. "

Leeds manager David O'Leary stated that he did not know the extent of the injury, although Radebe is known to have received lengthy treatment before making his way - without speaking to the awaiting media - onto the team coach.