Manchester United were spared a damaging and deserved defeat by Atletico Madrid on Wednesday as Anthony Elanga‘s late goal rescued them a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the Champions League last 16.
Atletico outplayed a sluggish United for the majority of the match at the Wanda Metropolitano and might have considered Joao Felix‘s early goal scant reward heading into the second leg at Old Trafford in three weeks’ time.
But rather than extend their advantage, Atletico squandered it, Elanga racing onto a Bruno Fernandes through ball and applying a cool finish with 10 minutes left to earn United a draw that felt like a victory.
The 19-year-old had been on the pitch less than six minutes after replacing Marcus Rashford, when he raced onto Fernandes’ perfectly-weighted pass to roll the ball past home goalkeeper Jan Oblak with his first touch to earn his side a 1-1 draw.
Atletico’s Sime Vrsaljko had already hit the crossbar at the end of the first half and Antoine Griezmann was also denied a late winner by the woodwork after Elanga’s equaliser.
But while United will breathe a sigh of relief at the result, this was another performance to prompt serious concerns about their progress and direction under interim coach Ralf Rangnick.