Anthony Elanga came off the bench to help Manchester United to a 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday night, as the Red Devils left the Wanda Metropolitano after suffering for extended spells.
Ralf Rangnick wants other Manchester United players to learn from Anthony Elanga, who came off the bench to earn a lucky Champions League draw against Atletico Madrid.
After a thrilling Premier League win over Leeds on Sunday, the Red Devils stuttered in Spain and were on the verge of defeat after Joao Felix’s early bullet header.
At the Wanda Metropolitano, United looked lifeless for long stretches and lacked creativity, only for Elanga to come off the bench and score with their first chance on goal.
Rangnick expects other players will follow in the footsteps of the 19-year-old academy graduate, whose calm strike sealed a deserved 1-1 draw in the first leg of this last-16 contest.
“Anthony, in all of the games that he’s played so far, just demonstrates that he’s playing with all of the passion, fun, and joy,” Rangnick said.
“He’s just having fun on the field, and he’s well aware of his skills, assets, and weapons.” He’s always attempting to show off his guns and play with them. This is exactly what he did today.
“Not only did he score the goal, but he also made two or three terrific runs, and anytime he did that, you could see that Atletico had trouble with this type of approach.”
“However, we must demonstrate that in other positions as well, not just with Anthony Elanga or one or two other players.”
“We just have to play like that on every single position if we want to go to the quarter-finals in a few of weeks at Old Trafford.”
Rangnick told BT Sport that Elanga was “playing as if it were a dream come true,” and that he hopes “a few other players will look up to him as a role model.”
When asked why some of his players appear depressed and troubled at times, the interim manager replied, “I’m not sure what this is.” This is just my opinion. When I look at a game like the one tonight, it’s not easy to play in such a raucous atmosphere in this stadium.
“Not only did we know what to expect from the fans, but we also knew what to expect on the field.”
“It’s one thing to be prepared for it, and another to deal with it and fight against it on the field.” This is what we lacked in the first half of today’s game, but we made up for it in the last half hour, and it’s why the game took a different turn.
“I think we deserved to get back into the game towards the end.”
Elanga scored past Jan Oblak, one of the best goalkeepers in the world, to add to his goal at Leeds, where he came off the bench and scored after being hit by an object thrown by home supporters.
“Of course, I knew his name before (joining), but I didn’t know him as a player because he didn’t play for Manchester United,” interim manager Rangnick explained.
“He was the player with the best training performance on the first training session, the night before the Crystal Palace game, so I asked my colleagues and my staff members about him and then found out he had virtually already agreed to leave the club on loan.”
“As we all know, he came in against Palace, and the week after I said, ‘Listen, I want you to stay and see how you do, how you do in training and games until the transfer window closes.'”
“I think he’s just showed what’s possible in football with the correct mentality, the appropriate approach to games right now.” That’s exactly what he did, and it’s what he does in every training session.”
The Wanda Metropolitano draw sets up an intriguing second leg on March 15 at Old Trafford.
Diego Simeone, the manager of Atletico Madrid, was satisfied with his team’s performance after Sime Vrsaljko hit the crossbar late in the first half and replacement Antoine Griezmann rattled the crossbar shortly after Elanga’s equalizer.
“I’m pretty pleased with how we played,” he stated. “We did enough to win, and now it’s all up to us.”