Manchester United fought back to clinch a draw at Atletico Madrid as substitutes made all the difference in the Champions League.
The game started with Atletico Madrid on the front foot, urged forward by the crowd and they scored inside seven minutes with a header from Joao Felix which went in off the post.
It was a deserved lead as United had seen very little of the ball in the opening ten minutes, their passing was sloppy and their was no ambition to push forward.
United showed a glimpse of a fightback as Rashford showed his strength to get round a couple of defenders but Fernandes’ shot took a deflection. The resulting corner was easily dealt with by the hosts.
Though United were having more possession than Madrid, they showed no desire to use it to attack.
Just before half-time Atletico had a chance to double their lead, but a deflection off Fernandes changed the flight of the ball so it was just behind Llorente, who hooked it onto the crossbar.
The second half began much like the first half ended, with Madrid crowding United out and showing more desire to find the next goal.
United began to grow into the game but their final third decisions lacked conviction and ultimately didn’t lead to a shot.
It was hard to see where a breakthrough could come from for United. Could the substitutes be the difference for United?
Elanga did bring a spark to the game and darted round defenders with ease. He laid it off to Fred, who was brought down just outside of the area and the stage was set for Ronaldo’s heroics. However his free-kick flew over the bar.
Nonetheless it was substitute Elanga who found the breakthrough for United in the 80th minute, a beautifully weighted pass from Fernandes picked out the run of the academy graduate, who calmly kept running and slotted it past the keeper.
Though United had dampened spirits in Madrid, the Spanish side didn’t give up as they tried to get their lead back. They had a good chance in the 87th minute from a corner but they rattled the crossbar again.
Telles showed strength and skill as he delivered a number of great crosses into the box and wriggled through defenders to keep possession.
It finished all square in Spain, setting up a tense return leg at Old Trafford in three weeks time. United turned things around late on and managed to get the result.
Team: de Gea, Varane, Shaw (Telles 66), Lindelof (Wan-Bissaka 66), Maguire, Pogba (Matic 66), Fred, Fernandes, Rashford (Elanga 75), Sancho (Lingard 82), Ronaldo