Anthony Elanga’s goal on Wednesday night in Spain helped Manchester United to salvage a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Atletico Madrid
Anthony Elanga scores with Manchester United’s first shot on target 10 minutes from the end of the dramatic match between the Spanish and English giants.
Having lost much of their defensive steel this season, bringing a haywire run to an end with a first clean sheet in eight games against Osasuna at the weekend, Atleti were looking to revive Cholismo in earnest here.
Ralf Rangnick had warned his players to expect an “emotional, hostile atmosphere” at the Wanda Metropolitano and their hosts duly obliged, greeting United with a cacophony of jeers and whistles as they walked out onto the pitch.
At half time, it felt like a classic Diego Simeone performance. Having gone 1-0 up through Joao Felix with seven minutes on the clock, Brazilian wing-back Renan Lodi crossing from deep to set him up to head in off the inside of the post, Atleti ended the first half with 33 per cent possession, six shots, one shot on target and one goal.
United, meanwhile, had been limited to two shots, neither of which were on target, and an absurdly low xG of 0.05. Atleti could so easily have been 2-0 up at the break, with Lodi setting up opposite wing-back Sime Vrsaljko for a header at the far post which took a deflection off Victor Lindelof and came back out off the crossbar.
While tensions had simmered throughout the first half – Cristiano Ronaldo twice made a futile appeal for a booking after Hector Herrera and Marcus Llorente took turns to hack down the former Real Madrid man, with the latter also squaring up to Luke Shaw at one stage – the game became increasingly ill-tempered in the second half.
There were eight yellow cards in total after the restart, with Shaw, Lindelof, Reinildo, Llorente, Fred, Marcus Rashford, Jose Maria Gimenez and Alex Telles all going into the book.
That suited Atletico down to the ground but, just as it looked like United might let their frustrations get the better of them, Bruno Fernandes played in Elanga, who vaulted Reinildo and slotted low past Jan Oblak.
Atleti hit the crossbar again late on through Antoine Griezmann, on as a second-half substitute, but for all their intent they couldn’t find a winner.
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That leaves the tie perfectly poised ahead of the second leg at Old Trafford next month.