Manchester United earned a 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid in their Champions League round-of-16 first leg clash on Wednesday at Wanda Metropolitano as a late Anthony Elanga goal cancelled out Joao Felix’s stunning first-half header.

The hosts showed their far greater intensity from the off as they were all over the Premier League side and took a deserved lead on seven minutes as Felix stretched out his neck to head in superbly from Renan Lodi’s cross.

However, with just 10 minutes remaining, United scored with their first real chance of the match as Elanga, having only come on five minutes earlier, coolly slotted past goalkeeper Jan Oblak following Bruno Fernandes’ through ball.

“The truth is I’m annoyed. I don’t think we deserved to draw. We did a lot to win. We were totally superior to them in almost every aspect of play,” Atletico’s Josema Gimenez said after the game.

“We defended well, we created chances, clear chances, we hit the woodwork twice. In the end if you aren’t clinical, they’re very good too.

When it opened up, we lost the ball, we knew it was a strength of theirs, we had to defend well. It’s a chance goal. We totally deserved the win.”

Atletico domainated the first half, despite United dominating possession, as Ralf Rangnick’s side failed to register a single touch in the opposition’s penalty area throughout the opening 45 minutes.

The home side’s manager Diego Simeone was rewarded in his decision to start Felix in attack alongside Angel Correa with Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann on the substitutes’ bench.

Meanwhile, Rangnick opting to start Victor Lindelof, traditionally a central defender, as a right-back appeared to backfire as the Sweden international was targeted by Lodi and it was down their left side that the hosts looked most dangerous.

“What we played in the first half, I still can’t believe what we did. We played without conviction, without all the necessary aggression, that is why we really struggled,” Rangnick said.

“Second half we did better, and with another 10 minutes, we might have even won the game. But we have to play better. I was very disappointed with our performance in the first half.”

Sime Vrsaljko almost doubled Atletico’s lead on the stroke of half-time as he head against the bar after United’s Bruno Fernandes had got a touch on Lodi’s cross.

Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been Atletico’s chief tormentor in the Champions League for both Real Madrid and Juventus, failed to influence proceedings while four-time winner Raphael Varane looked nervous on his return to the Spanish capital.

Atletico went in search of the second goal their performance deserved as they sent on Griezmann and Thomas Lemar on 75 minutes but the hosts failed to add a crucial second goal and it was United who got the late strike through Elanga. Griezmann hit the United bar with a stunning curling effort four minutes from time.

“That was my first touch as well. I have dreamt of moments like this, scoring in the Champions League,” Elanga said.

“A big occasion like this, against a top European team like Atletico Madrid, is a dream come true. But it’s only the first half, and we’ve got to be ready for Old Trafford in a couple of weeks.”

The return leg will be played at Old Trafford on March 15.


Courtesy: ESPN

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