Report: Atletico Madrid 1 United 1
Manchester United fought back to earn a 1-1 draw away from home in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 tie against Atletico Madrid.
Anthony Elanga struck a vital equaliser 10 minutes from time at the Wanda Metropolitano, after Joao Felix had nodded the home side ahead early in the first half.
It means the tie is all square for the return leg at Old Trafford in three weeks' time.
FIRST HALF – FELIX HEADS HOSTS IN FRONT
In a feverish atmosphere the home side started brightly, drawing Victor Lindelof into making an excellent sliding block to stop Jose Maria Gimenez shooting on goal after a pull-back from Angel Correa in the opening stages.
The Spaniards were celebrating in the seventh minute when Renan Lodi recycled the ball after United had cleared a corner, with Joao Felix nodding the delivery in off the post – leaving David De Gea no chance of saving it.
With around a quarter of an hour gone, Bruno Fernandes teed up a strike after a move involving smart work from Marcus Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo, but Bruno's effort was blocked by a defender.
After Atletico’s early flourish, the Reds began to dominate the ball but were finding a breakthrough hard to come by against the rigid organisation of Diego Simeone’s team.
Ronaldo looked as if he was about to be set free after nicking the ball on the halfway line, but was stopped in his tracks after the referee gave a foul, despite there seeming little wrong with the challenge. The Portuguese forward had another chance shortly after, hitting one from range, but dragged the shot wide.
Against the run of play, Marcos Llorente almost doubled Atletico’s lead shortly before half-time when a cross bounced off Lindelof and into Llorente's path, but thankfully his instant header at the back post flew back off the bar and away from danger.
SECOND HALF – ELANGA EQUALISES
Atletico again came out the blocks quickly, first Llorente trying one from range before Lindelof had to head a dangerous ball into the box behind for a corner, with the Reds dealing with the set-play.
Once again, following the early storm, United began to control the majority of the play, but the hosts continued to frustrate keeping chances at a premium as Fernandes saw an effort blocked and Rashford fired over the bar.
Meanwhile, when Fred played a ball forward Atletico keeper Jan Oblak was almost caught out. The Slovenia stopper found himself back-peddling, but managed to keep hold of the ball without carrying it over the goal line. Into the final 15 minutes, the Reds had an opportunity when Correa fouled Fred just outside the area; Ronaldo stepped up to strike the free-kick but missed the target.
Second-half substitute Elanga then provided the perfect finishing touch after Fernandes threaded a lovely pass to find him as United broke forward. Bearing down on goal, Elanga coolly dispatched a shot past the keeper and into the bottom corner.
Antoine Griezmann thought he had restored the Spanish side’s advantage when he let fly with a curling effort in the box, but it crashed off the woodwork. Substitute Jesse Lingard was also denied by a save in stoppage time, meaning it will be honours even when the two sides lock horns in the second leg.
Atletico: Oblak (c); Vrsaljko, Gimenez, Savic, Mandava; Llorente, Herrera, Kondogbia, Renan Lodi (Lemar 76); Correa, Joao Felix (Griezmann 76).
Subs not used: Lecomte, Gomez Vela, De Paul, Suarez, Felipe, Hermoso, Serrano.
Goal: Joao Felix 7
Booked: Herrera, Mandava, Llorente, Gimenez.
United: De Gea; Lindelof (Wan-Bissaka 66), Varane, Maguire (c), Shaw (Telles 67); Fred, Pogba (Matic 66), Fernandes; Rashford (Elanga 75), Ronaldo, Sancho (Lingard 82).
Subs not used: Heaton, Henderson, Bailly, Jones, Dalot, Mata, Hannibal.
Goal: Elanga 80
Booked: Shaw, Lindelof, Rashford, Fred, Telles.