Rangnick says first goal was key but referee made it easy for Atletico
Ralf Rangnick believes his Manchester United team paid the price for not scoring the first goal as they could not overcome Atletico Madrid’s time-wasting antics during the 1-0 second leg defeat at Old Trafford in the Champions League round of 16. United have now bowed out of the competition 2-1 on aggregate.
Manchester United will end a fifth successive season without a trophy after crashing out of the Champions League to Atletico Madrid.
United failed to build on their scarcely-deserved draw in the first leg of this last-16 clash in Spain, with Renan Lodi’s first-half header securing a 1-0 Old Trafford win as Atleti progressed to the quarter-finals.
The 2-1 aggregate exit extinguished any faint hopes of a first piece of silverware since the 2017 Europa League as the Premier League side saw a fifth successive continental campaign end in defeat to Spanish opposition.
United started well enough at a rocking Old Trafford, where Anthony Elanga would have scored his second of the tie was it not for a fortunate Jan Oblak save on a night that the reigning LaLiga champions grew into.
Cristiano Ronaldo was showing skills down the flank inside the opening minute and then Elanga somehow reached a cross before Oblak, only for referee Slavko Vincic to award a foul after the teenager headed off target.
Rangnick told his players to take a leaf out of the teenager’s book following his equaliser in Spain and the academy graduate again looked undaunted by the occasion on Tuesday. The 19-year-old went agonisingly close to scoring a 13th-minute opener as he met a driven Bruno Fernandes cross with a first-time shot that Oblak blocked with his head.
United looked the greater threat at this point. Fred produced some outrageous skill to get past Stefan Savic at the byline, with Diogo Dalot having a couple of shots and Fernandes seeing penalty appeals ignored.
But the hosts’ control began to loosen and they nearly fell behind in the 34th minute as Alex Telles was caught napping as Koke played wide to Marcos Llorente, who had strayed narrowly offside before crossing for Felix to score.
Atleti exposed United’s full-backs again seven minutes later but this time it counted. Calls for a foul on Elanga fell on deaf ears as Atleti launched a considered, slick attack that ended with Felix backheeling for Griezmann to cross to the back stick, where Lodi was free to head past De Gea at his near post.
Fernandes stung Oblak’s palms from distance in first-half stoppage time and Elanga fizzed across the face of goal moments after the restart. De Gea let his fury known after being played into trouble by hesitant Harry Maguire and having to save a De Paul attempt, before Fred slashed wide and Jadon Sancho volleyed over against a side content to sit deep and break.
A whipped Fernandes free-kick just evaded Ronaldo before the former was withdrawn as part of a triple change that saw Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic and Marcus Rashford introduced. Jose Maria Gimenez and Griezmann tried to score a second for Atletico, who were frustrating United as referee Vincic’s decisions infuriated.
Edinson Cavani was brought on as United hunted a leveller that nearly arrived in the 77th minute when Raphael Varane rose to meet a Telles free-kick with a header that Oblak saved impressively. Dalot went close from distance and there was sarcastic applause when Juan Mata came on for skipper Maguire in a final roll of the dice.