Football Features

“I like to make the defender scared” – Player ratings as Manchester United rescue a late draw against Atlético Madrid

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 22:35, 23 February 2022

Manchester United left it late to draw 1-1 with Atlético Madrid on a dramatic night in the Champions League.

Atlético Madrid came flying out of the traps and scored very early, but as much as they were more dangerous they couldn’t add to their lead and so, somewhat inevitably, Manchester United equalised late on to set-up a tantalising second-leg.

“We played without conviction,” was Ralf Rangnick’s summation of the game. “Against the ball and with the ball we were far too apprehensive.” While he may be struggling, it’s clear that he has an idea of how he wants the Red Devils to play in a way that should inform who the next Manchester United manager will be.

“He’s playing for him as if a dream comes true,” said Rangnick, who mentioned that Elanga’s joy could be an example for others: “I wish a few other players would take him as a role model, because he’s enjoying himself on the pitch.”

Here’s how the players rated at the Wanda Metropolitano:

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Atlético Madrid

Jan Oblak – 4 – Had nothing to do, until he did, and then he failed. Jesse Lingard even popped one down his throat late on so that he could keep up his 50% save percentage.

José Giménez – 7 – Dealt with what he had to do, which wasn’t much.

Stefan Savic – 7 – Made a couple of big interventions to stop Marcus Rashford in particular.

Reinildo – 5 – Combative and solid, until he fell over trying to stretch and block Anthony Elanga on the late equaliser.

Sime Vrsaljko – 6 – Had no defending to do until Alex Telles came on. Made a bunch of good runs.

Hector Herrera – 7 – Went around kicking everyone to great effect. A proper old-school enforcer performance.

Geoffrey Kondogbia – 8 – Absolutely dominated midfield. If Atleti had just one other player performing on his level they would have steamrollered United instead of just flattering to deceive with a 1-0 lead for 75 minutes.

Marcos Llorente – 7 – Made some great driving runs. Should have scored Atleti’s second just before the break. Kept the pressure.

Renan Lodi – 8 – Stunning cross into the box for Joao Felix’s opener and delivered another that Llorente really should have scored. United gave him space and he punished them. Atleti got worse once he left the field.

Joao Felix – 7 – Looked bright at the start and scored an absolutely staggering diving header to open the scoring. He was sharp and smart and dynamic and dangerous.

Angel Correa – 4 – Was he on the field? Didn’t really do anything.

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Atlético Madrid Substitutes:

Thomas Lemar (for Renan Lodi 76′) – 5 – Didn’t add anything like what Renan Lodi did.

Antoine Griezmann (for Joao Felix 76′) – 6 – Looked lively and was unlucky to hit the bar.

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Manchester United

David de Gea – 5 – His kicking was a problem as it so often is, but beyond that he was given no protection and was helpless on Joao Felix’s goal. There could have been two of him and it still would have gone in.

Victor Lindelof – 4 – Great block in the very early going, but sluggish to step out and cover Renan Lodi on the opening goal. Then failed to track Llorente and was lucky the midfielder headed the ball into his face instead of at the goal. Handled himself 1-v-1 but isn’t a right-back and it showed.

Raphael Varane – 6 – Looked panicked and hurried in a way he so rarely does. Whether he was frustrated and had too much to cover or the occasion got to him, he was so poor in the first-half and upgraded to just about decent in the second.

Harry Maguire – 5 – Dozy start, completely lost Joao Felix on the Atleti opener. Continued to be terrible for the entire first-half and he was just about alright after Nemanja Matic came on to offer some real protection.

Luke Shaw – 4 – Sleepy and sloppy play. Almost gave a goal away in the opening seconds and never really got out of that mode. With all the focus on Maguire’s poor season no one has noticed how terrible Luke Shaw has been all campaign.

Fred – 6 – Didn’t step out to block Lodi on his cross for the opener. Buzzed around the field trying desperatly to make things happen.

Bruno Fernandes – 7 – Went Full Bruno. You should never go Full Bruno. However when you’re spraying killer balls forward every chance you get, as ridiculous as you may look eventually one of your team-mates is going to make the appropriate run and that’s just what Anthony Elanga did.

With just 10 minutes left, the young Swede surged into the space behind Atleti’s defence, giving Bruno the excuse he needed to pick out a perfect pass to set up the equaliser. He has now registered an assist in every single Champions League game this season; he is inevitable. The best player at Manchester United.

Paul Pogba – 4 – This was the display every United fan fears whenever Pogba takes the field. Slow, sluggish and vulnerable to the press. At no point did he look capable of handling the pace Atlético Madrid set.

Marcus Rashford – 5 – Tried his best to force something. Made countless driving runs but was never found. Didn’t really play well but his enthusiasm and effort alone made him stand out.

Jadon Sancho – 4 – Tried in vain to make something happen but wasn’t on the same wavelength as his team-mates at all. In his defence: he’s a footballer and United barely played any football today.

Cristiano Ronaldo – 4 – Old and washed. Couldn’t even conjure up his usual goal against Atleti. A photocopy of a shadow of his former self. Diego Simeone has realised he had to drop his ageing star striker to unleash his young side’s attacking potential; when does Rangnick come to the same realisation?


Aaron Wan-Bissaka (for Lindelof 66′) – 7 – Instantly added bite, drive and thrust to United’s right-flank. Despite the criticisms, if United’s opponent can play then there is no better choice to play right-back than Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Nemanja Matic (for Pogba 66′) – 7 – Ran the show from the second he stepped onto the pitch. United will need him to play in the league to help them chase down the Champions League places this season against stiff competition from Arsenal and Spurs, but they need to get him prepped for the second-leg if they want to progress.

Alex Telles (for Shaw 67′) – 7 – Showed more in his brief cameo than Luke Shaw did in all his minutes.

Anthony Elanga (for Rashford 75′) – 7 – Scored the killer goal as he made a great run in behind Reinildo to provide a superb passing option for Bruno and, when the ball reached him, showed no hesitation and slotted his shot beyond Oblak.

After the match Elanga reminded his interviewer about his composure: “I told you last time how calm and cool I am,” before adding: “I just want to be on the pitch, to lead like I’m the best player on the pitch.”

On his approach, Elanga told BT Sport how he liked to keep it simple, but devastating: “[I like to] make the defender scared and run in behind, and when I get the opportunity; take it.” Well tonight Anthony Elanga more than took his opportunity.

Jesse Lingard (for Sancho 82′) – 6 – Didn’t get as involved as his team-mates but did sting Oblak’s palms with a meaty shot late on.