Atletico let Man United escape with 1-1 draw

Sports Desk, Feb 23 (EFE).- Atletico Madrid were up 1-0 against Manchester United heading into the final stretch of Wednesday’s Champions League round of 16 first leg at the Wanda Metropolitano when they got caught on the counter and 19-year-old Anthony Elanga equalized for the Red Devils.

While conceding possession, the hosts had kept United well away from Jan Oblak’s goal for nearly 80 minutes before leaving him alone to face the sub making his Champions League debut, who bested the veteran Atleti keeper.

The Colchoneros went ahead in the 7th minute with a tremendous goal by Joao Felix, who got his head to Renan Lodi’s cross after United failed to completely clear a corner.

Sime Vrsaljko had a chance to make it 2-0 in the final minute of first-half regulation, but his shot bounced off the cross-bar.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho were effectively neutralized in a contest that saw more yellow cards than genuine scoring opportunities.

With 15 minutes left, Ralf Rangnick pulled Rashford in favor of Elanga and the Swedish international repaid the interim coach’s confidence by scoring on his first touch.

Both sides created chances for a match winner. Antoine Griezmann, who came on for Felix, fired over the cross-bar in the 87th minute, while Oblak denied Jesse Lingard in stoppage time.

The second leg is set for March 15 at Old Trafford.

In Lisbon, Benfica came from behind twice to draw 2-2 with Ajax in the first leg of their tie.

The Dutch club, who won all six of their games in the group stage, took the lead in the 18th minute courtesy of Dusan Tadic. But the hosts pulled level in the 25th on an own goal by Sebastien Haller.

Four minutes later, the Ivorian striker atoned for his mistake with a goal at the other end to boost his 2021-2022 Champions League-best total to 11.

The advantage held up until the 72nd minute, when sub Roman Yaremchuk exploited a lapse at the back by Ajax to bring Benfica level, setting the stage for a decisive showdown next month in Amsterdam. EFE id-pfm/dr

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