Manchester United was not at their best against Atletico Madrid, but they were able to depart the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium with a point. The goal by Joao Felix appeared to have given the La Liga giants a first-leg lead. Nonetheless, Anthony Elanga scored in the last seconds to save Ralf Rangnick from further scrutiny.
Against Atletico, United had to dig deep.
They were inferior to their La Liga opponents for the majority of the game, with the hosts hitting the crossbar in both halves.
United would have suffered a crushing defeat if those efforts had found the back of the net.
Nonetheless, they were able to secure a draw in the end.
Felix ignited Atletico’s stadium with a bullet header in the first half, demonstrating why he’s still considered as one of the best young players on the planet.
United, on the other hand, earned a point thanks to Elanga, who is quickly becoming too brilliant to ignore.
Last season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gave the 22-year-old his debut, but it’s under Rangnick that he’s truly showcasing his true brilliance.
Regardless of how bad United was under Solskjaer, he always seemed hesitant to turn to the young Swede.
Despite the fact that players like Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, and Mason Greenwood have struggled under his tutelage.
Nonetheless, with three goals under his belt, Elanga has arrived to become an unstoppable force.
After the game, he spoke to BT Sport about how Rangnick motivated him ahead of his introduction as a substitute.
“”He (Ralf Rangnick) told me to intimidate the defenders and run in behind,” he explained.
“When I get the chance, I’ll take it.” I wanted a nice outcome for the supporters because they had traveled a long distance.”
Elanga also expressed his appreciation for Rangnick’s assistance.
“I’ve always wanted to score in the Champions League against strong European teams like Atletico Madrid,” he said.
“This is only the first half; we must be prepared for the second half at Old Trafford.”
“I told you how calm and cool I am, and whenever I am given the chance, I want to repay the management by giving my all every time I step onto the field.
“I just do what I can; I want to be the best player on the field, and I respect the coach.”
With Rashford still out, Greenwood unavailable, and Martial on loan, Elanga must simply establish himself as a regular starter.
Nemanja Matic is another player who should be given more opportunities.
The Serbia international came in in the second half and provided much-needed calm on the night.
With Paul Pogba struggling and Bruno Fernandes unpredictable, Matic was just what the Red Devils required.
It’s clear that he’s nearing the end of his career.
But United is better when Matic starts, and the former Chelsea and Benfica star is still a valuable asset.
Fred was terrible, and the Brazilian was plainly better suited to playing further forward.
Scott McTominay was absent and, in any event, remains untrustworthy.
However, with Matic, United knows they have a Mr. Reliable who can be relied on – no matter how harsh the environment.
Rangnick, for his part, lauded Elanga after the game, saying: “He’s playing as if it’s a dream come true; it’s a delight and a lot of fun to see him play; I wish a few other players would look up to him as an example and a role model.
“Football is an essential sport, especially for the fans, and it is a ball game.”
“This is what I would like to see us do, especially in the second leg.”