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On Wednesday, February 23rd, 2022 the Atlético Madrid football club almost got all they could ask for during the 1st – leg of the Champions League match – up against Manchester United. The only thing else that was left to desire for Atlético Madrid in this contest was a win which they were just minutes away from last Wednesday.
Atlético Madrid was able to keep Cristiano Ronaldo contained, and Atlético got an outstanding performance from Ronaldo’s Portuguese national teammate João Félix, but a major defensive error toward the conclusion of this contest cost Diego Simeone’s club the victory as they had to settle for a 1 to 1 draw over the 1st – leg of this round of 16 Champions League battle.
Félix who has been compared to and praised formerly as possibly the next Ronaldo, was the most dangerous forward throughout this highly – contested match, and he managed to propel the hosts side of Atlético Madrid in front first during the football game by scoring on a brilliant diving header that happened to find the back of the net just 7 – minutes into the contest, but the Manchester United substitute, Anthony Elanga, scored the equalizer during the 80th – minute not too long following his entrance into the game play on Wednesday during one of the very few times that the Atlético Madrid defense failed to protect their territory and goal area.
“I think it was my first touch,” says Anthony Elanga of Manchester United. “I’ve dreamt of moments like this, scoring in the Champions League against a top team like Atlético Madrid.”
Atlético Madrid was in the driver’s seat throughout the majority of the most of the game at the historic venue of the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium as they had much of the scoring opportunities including hit the crossbar on multiple occasions even as late as the 86th – minute of action via a shot by Antoine Griezmann.
“They took advantage of a mistake in what was a very good game for us,” Diego Simeone explained. “We did almost everything right the entire match. We couldn’t win but I’m happy with how we played and it’s all wide open for the second game.”
The 2nd – leg of this instant classic match – up is now scheduled for Tuesday, March 15th, 2022, and this time in England with Manchester United as the home side.
“After the performance in the first half it could only get better,” the head coach of Manchester United, Ralf Rangnick, proclaimed. “What we played in the first half — I still can’t believe it. We played without conviction and the necessary aggression against the ball.”
Ronaldo, who several times has been able to end Atlético Madrid’s Champions League title hopes when he was with Atletico’s crosstown rival in Real Madrid. However, Cristiano seemed to be shut down and limited in touches throughout this defensive battle of a football match. Ronaldo was clearly showing his frustrations through easily observed body language. He was booed by the Atlético Madrid faithful just about each and every time that he happened to touch the ball at the Metropolitano last Wednesday.
Félix was definitely playing with more passion and this made his game that much more dangerous for Atlético Madrid’s offensive attack which seemingly was threatening to score especially with the strong performance of Felix who was burning off quick turns as well as strong and deep runs down the pitch.
Félix’s goal score was his 7th career Champions League tally throughout his 20 – appearances in the competition, and it was his 1st – goal in this competition since back in 2020.
Elanga came into this game just 5 – minutes earlier prior to his huge late goal for Man U as he took advantage of the rare space conceded by the usually sound and efficient Atlético Madrid defense. Elanga’s tally was good for Manchester United’s 500th overall goal in the competition which was previously referred to as the European Cup.
“We are a bit disappointed, we didn’t deserve a draw,” the defender for Atlético Madrid, José María Giménez, expressed. “We did everything we had to do to win. We defended well and created scoring chances in attack. They scored on a casual goal and we didn’t deserve that.”
Atlético Madrid finished the game with a total of 13 attempts, but they only recorded 1 shot on target, whereas Manchester United had 2 – shots on target with a total of 9 – attempts. Atlético Madrid’s goalkeeper, Jan Oblak, was credited with the only save of this close Champions League match.
Griezmann as well as Luis Suárez started on the bench, but they had the chance to put Atlético Madrid in front once again towards the end of the game, but one of their shots dramatically glanced off of the crossbar. Atlético Madrid also was denied by the iron just prior to the halftime break when a close – range Sime Vrsaljko header bounced into the crossbar after making contact with the face of the Manchester United defender, Victor Lindelof.
This marked the 1st – meeting between these clubs since the 2nd – round of the UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup way back during the 1991 – 1992 European football season, and Atlético Madrid ultimately won that match – up 4 to 1 on aggregate.
Azzoni, Tales. “Man United scores late to salvage 1 – 1 draw with Atlético”. The Associated Press. February 23, 2022.