Madrid (AFP) – Ralf Rangnick told his Manchester United team to play with the same care-free attitude as Anthony Elanga after the 19-year-old salvaged a 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.
Elanga came on as a substitute in the 75th minute and scored in the 80th, after Atletico had dominated the majority of their Champions League last 16 first leg at the Wanda Metropolitano.
But the draw felt like a victory for United, who were woeful in the first half yet escaped with a result that puts them in a strong position to reach the quarter-finals.
“In all the games he has played, he shows he is playing with passion and fun,” Rangnick said. “He is just enjoying himself on the pitch, he is aware of his weapons and he wants to show his weapons.
“Not just with the goal he scored, he had three or four great runs. Atletico had problems with this approach. We have to show this in other positions as well, one or two other players, in every single position. If we want to go through we have to play like that.”
United failed to have a single touch in the Atletico penalty area in the first 45 minutes.
“After the performance in the first half, it could only get better,” Rangnick told BT Sport.
“What we played in the first half I still cannot believe. We played without conviction, without aggression and that is why we were struggling.
“In the second half we did better, with more possession in areas that mattered and if we played another 10 minutes we might have won the game. We have to play better in the first half, I was very disappointed by that performance in the first half.”
Rangnick was asked in his press conference what he told the United players at half-time.
“I told them this is not enough,” he said.
“We have to have more energy. It’s not about game-plans or tactics. It’s about conviction. It’s about belief. This is not enough. This is the Champions League.”
Elanga raced onto Bruno Fernandes’ through ball, skipped away from Reinildo Mandava’s challenge and slid a finish into the far corner.
“I think it was my first touch as well,” Elanga said.
“I have dreamt of moments like this, scoring in the Champions League against top European teams like Atletico Madrid, it’s a dream come true.
“It is only the first half of the tie, we have to be ready for the second half at Old Trafford.”
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