Anthony Elanga’s late equaliser boosted Manchester United’s hopes of reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League as they fought back to draw against Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano.
The 19-year-old had been on the pitch less than six minutes after replacing Marcus Rashford, when he raced onto Bruno Fernandes’ perfectly-weighted pass to roll the ball past home goalkeeper Jan Oblak.
Until that point it had looked as though Diego Simeone’s Spanish champions were going to take a narrow advantage to Old Trafford after delivering a masterclass in controlling the game without dominating possession.
Joao Felix’s early header from Renan Lodi’s inviting cross gave the hosts a dream start with United looking ragged on their right, where interim boss Ralf Rangnick’s gamble of playing Victor Lindelof at full-back failed badly.
The Swedish central defender looked uncomfortable throughout and was booked for a tug on Felix before his miserable evening was ended prematurely by his withdrawal midway through the second half.
By then Atletico could and perhaps should have been two goals ahead with Sime Vrsaljko heading the ball off Lindelof and onto the United bar in the closing moments of the first half after some more dismal defending.
While Rangnick’s side enjoyed plenty of the ball, they were slow and indecisive in possession and barely looked capable of carving open their well-drilled opponents who repeatedly picked off every sloppy United pass in midfield.
Atletico were also unlucky to not score late on themselves when Antoine Griezmann rattled the visitors crossbar.
However, Elanga, who missed the crucial penalty when Rangnick’s side lost in the FA Cup to Middlesbrough earlier this month, followed up his goal at Leeds on Sunday with another important intervention to change the complexion of the tie before the second leg in Manchester in three weeks’ time.