Manchester United must have left the Spanish capital with smiles on their faces, as they fought very hard to earn a 1-1 draw with Diego Simeone’s side.
A flying Joao Felix header in the 7th min of the game put Atletico ahead. While a couple of chances for the home side saw them hit the crossbar.
The half ended with Atletico Madrid leading the red devils by 1-0. The scoreline might not suggest it, but the parity between the two sides was visibly worlds apart.
Despite this, United held on and kept the score at 1-0 until a late push and newfound momentum in the final 15 minutes of the game resulted in United equalizing in the 80th minute.
The first-ever goal for their 19-year-old Anthony Elanga brought United on level terms.
The match ended at 1-1 and without a doubt, it would be Manchester United who would be the happier of the two sides.
Ronaldo was uncharacteristically quiet against his favorite opponents but all of that can change when these two sides meet again in 14 days’ time!
But till then, let’s figure out a few pointers that stood out from this exhilarating encounter!
A new star in making
Following the anguish of his penalty miss, which saw United eliminated from the FA Cup earlier this month, Anthony Elanga has since rebounded magnificently, with this key European goal coming on the heels of a late goal at Leeds on Sunday.
Late in the game, Anthony Elanga grabbed on to a through pass from Bruno Fernandes before easily shooting past Jan Oblak, thanks to Ralf Rangnick’s changes, Elanga could find himself in the right place at the right time.
With Rashford out of form and finding himself short on confidence, and the controversies of Mason Greenwood keeping him out of the side, this might be the perfect opportunity for Anthony Elanga to shine in that United Shirt.
The Swedish youngster after the match said,
“I think it was my first touch. I have dreamt of moments like this, scoring in the Champions League against top European teams like Atletico Madrid, a dream come true.”
On a side note, the Anthony Elanga goal has helped United reach a milestone in the Champions League.
His goal was the 500th goal that Manchester United has scored in this competition. United now finds themselves behind only Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich when it comes to scoring in the Champions League.
Half-time talk featuring Ralf Rangnick
This match was a tale of two halves. Manchester United was so much better when the second half began, especially in the last 15 min or so. A little bit of credit for that turnaround should be given to Ralf Rangnick.
His pep talk seems to have done the trick for United, along with some timely substitutions and tweak in tactics United were a completely different team after the break. Rewardingly, the match resulted in United drawing level with Atletico.
Rangnick revealed what he spoke to the players at half-time.
“Well, I told them this that this is just not enough,
“We need to show more energy, we don’t need to speak about game plans or any tactical moves or tricks, it’s all about conviction and being present on the pitch and believing what you’re doing, if the other team has got the ball or we are in possession ourselves. This is just not enough, it’s the Champions League.
What to expect next?
Bruno grabbed another assist in the match, which now means he has assisted in every Champions League game that United has played this season.
Bruno was characteristic in his display, but Ronaldo was far from it. The role-model figure had a decent outing, but you would expect more from him when the opposition is Atletico Madrid.
But all is not over for Ronaldo as he can still do the damage at Old Trafford when the second leg rolls around.
Speaking of the second leg, this tie is very much alive. A 1-1 draw is certainly a good result for Man United but the tie still hangs in the balance.
If the away goal rule was applicable, this 1-1 draw would have certainly meant more for the Red Devils, but since it’s discarded a 1-1 draw is still a 1-1 draw.
It promises to be a thrilling tie in 14 days’ time and we cannot wait for it!
We hope that the second leg can live up to its expectations and it will become another iconic at the Theater of Dreams.