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Manchester United – Champions League: Spanish papers pile praise on Atletico Madrid

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‘A small prize for a VERY good Atletico’: Spanish papers pile praise on Diego Simeone’s side after Champions League last-16 first leg draw… with the LaLiga side ‘FAR superior’ to Manchester United despite Anthony Elanga’s late equaliser


Atletico Madrid were ‘far superior’ and only got a ‘small prize’ for a ‘very good’ display in their draw against Manchester United, according to the front pages of Thursday’s papers. 

The Spanish giants dominated a hapless United in the first half and it took an equaliser from substitute Anthony Elanga to give Ralf Rangnick’s side something to take back to Old Trafford.

Marca’s front page carries the headline: ‘A small prize for a VERY good Atletico’, coupled with a picture of head in hands after Diego Simeone’s side failed to put United to the sword when they were on top. 

Marca rued a'small prize for a very good Atletico' after their 1-1 draw with Manchester United

Marca rued a ‘small prize for a very good Atletico’ after their 1-1 draw with Manchester United

Atletico goalscorer Joao Felix was on the cover of Diario AS to the headline:'This is the way'

Atletico goalscorer Joao Felix was on the cover of Diario AS to the headline: ‘This is the way’

Both Sime Vrsaljko and Antoine Griezmann struck the post during the frantic last-16 first leg at the Wanda Metropolitano and United will consider themselves fortunate to have got out without any further damage.

Joao Felix, who got the better of Harry Maguire on the night, adorns the cover of Diario AS. 

‘This is the way,’ reads the AS headline after a ‘superb’ display from the young Portuguese on a night where Atletico were ‘far superior’ to United. 

Anthony Elanga came off the bench to rescue a 1-1 draw for a below-par Manchester United

 Anthony Elanga came off the bench to rescue a 1-1 draw for a below-par Manchester United

The youngster drew praise from his manager on a night where United largely disappointed

 The youngster drew praise from his manager on a night where United largely disappointed

Simeone cut a frustrated figure at full-time in the knowledge that his side now have work to do in the return leg at Old Trafford when the tie could have been out of sight had they taken their chances.  

‘They took advantage of the only mistake in a very good match,’ Simeone said. 

‘Reinildo [Mandava] wanted to anticipate, although holding tight would have been a better option. The forwards’ job wasn’t easy but I’m left with a lot of good things. I have no doubt that this is the way.

‘Almost everything we did in the game was very good. It appears that they have the advantage, but nothing changes. 

‘Our goal was a very good moment. A great cross from Lodi and a great finish from Joao. I’m leaving this game satisfied. We didn’t do enough to win but the tie is open.’ 

Speaking to Movistar after the draw, Felix was frustrated not to have made their overwhelming dominance count. 

Atletico boss Diego Simeone believes the tie is'still open' with the scores level after first leg

Atletico boss Diego Simeone believes the tie is ‘still open’ with the scores level after first leg

‘The feeling was very bittersweet,’ he said.

‘We played a good game, despite not having much of the ball. We always had the game under control, they hardly had any chances to score. The one they had… that’s football.’ 

For United, Rangnick was upset with his team’s performance and vented his feelings at half-time. He suggested afterwards that United’s should follow Elanga’s example and play with more freedom of spirit.

‘I still cannot believe what we did in the first half,’ said the United boss. ‘We played without conviction and all the necessary aggression against the ball.

‘Obviously being 1-0 down after seven minutes, the plan was in the dustbin almost. Of course, I knew that this was not his best possible position.

‘He (Elanga) is playing as if for him a dream has come true. It is just joy and fun to watch him play, and I wish a few other players would take him as an example – almost a role model, I would say.’

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