Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Sub-par Man Utd claw their way back into Champions League tie, as Elanga earns draw against Atletico Madrid

Anthony Elanga celebrates in between Bruno Fernandes and Jadon Sancho

Anthony Elanga came off the bench to keep Man Utd level in their Champions League tie with Atletico Madrid, with the first leg ending as a 1-1 draw.

Man Utd were second best for most of the match, not even managing a touch in the Atletico box in the first half. But their first shot on target of the match was enough to earn them a draw from the first leg of their Round of 16 battle.

United made three changes to their lineup for the game. In came Fred, Marcus Rashford and Raphael Varane – the latter a long-time rival to Atletico from his days with Real Madrid.

Atletico were the better team for the whole first half. They had the first chance of the game after a development from a corner. However, a big block from Victor Lindelof thwarted Jose Gimenez.

The hosts were on top from the start and there was nothing United could do to keep them out when they took the lead in the seventh minute. After a cross from Renan Lodi, a diving header from Joao Felix hit the inside of the post and dropped over the line to make it 1-0.

United’s first attempt came via Bruno Fernandes after a run from Rashford. But it was deflected behind for a corner.

Lodi crossed for Felix again as the game approached the half-hour mark. This time the Atletico forward volleyed off target.

The left-back had a go himself shortly after, trying to catch David De Gea out at his near post but aiming wide.

Cristiano Ronaldo, a Real legend, had endured a quiet return to Madrid but took aim in the last 10 minutes of the first half. His effort was too wide to trouble Jan Oblak, though.

Atletico could – and maybe should – have had a second just before the break. A low cross caused danger, ending up with Marcos Llorente. His header bounced off Lindelof and onto the bar from close range.

Man Utd level it up in second half

The Spanish side also started the second half on top. They earned a corner early on, and it eventually ended with Llorente striking a shot wide on the bounce from the edge of the area.

For the visitors, bodies kept getting in the way of their attempts. Stefan Savic disrupted Bruno Fernandes in one half-chance, and Jadon Sancho had a shot blocked from outside the box after the hour mark.

Geoffrey Kondogbia tried his luck for Atletico with a volley from the edge of the area. But it fell wide.

A chance for an equaliser came when United won a free kick in an inviting position. However, Ronaldo did not test Oblak at all.

Instead, it was a younger attacker who brought United level. Elanga, on as a substitute in the 75th minute, got in behind the Atletico defence to latch onto a Fernandes pass. He finished first time back across goal, five minutes after his introduction.

Atletico thought they had regained the lead when a substitute of their own, Antoine Griezmann, hit the bar with a scooped effort.

There were four minutes of stoppage time. Jesse Lingard forced a save from Oblak, but neither side could get a second goal. Therefore, they will reconvene next month all square.

The second leg will take place at Old Trafford on March 15th.

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