ANTHONY ELANGA will have learned some valuable lessons from his two games against an accomplished European side like Atletico Madrid.
And Ralf Rangnick will have to find a way to keep the young Swede playing regularly as Manchester United are more menacing with him in the team.
Elanga, 19, was the hero of the first leg in Madrid three weeks ago when he equalized against the flow of play just minutes after coming off the bench.
It came just days after his goal against old foes Leeds and the Stretford End had a new hero – with a catchy new song.
His reward was to start the next two games against Watford and Manchester City – but then found himself back on the bench against Tottenham on Saturday.
Marcus Rashford got the nod in this one but he seems to be low on confidence at the moment – it was no surprise he made way.
Elanga started this game looking to make the most of his chance – it was only his ninth start in all competitions this season.
He responded well to a header and met Jan Oblak in the opening minutes.
The Slovenian is 6ft 2in and can use his hands but came away second best in this collision.
Madrid had obviously singled out Jadon Sancho as a threat as the Ace of the Three Lions was tightly guarded by two or three men every time he had the ball.
As a result, Elanga had some space at the other end early on and caused problems when the home side opened lively.
He was so unlucky that he didn’t give the home side the lead in the 13th minute when he headed in a cross that went over the goal.
His shot from just three yards caught Oblak in the face and somehow stayed outside – it’s fair to say the goalkeeper knew little about it.
If that had gone in, he would have been just that second teenager to score in both games in a Champions League Draw – following in the footsteps of Kylian Mbappe who made it twice.
As the half progressed, Elanga had fewer chances to show his blistering pace, but once he stretched his legs he felt like he had been fouled by Reinildo Mandava.
The referee disagreed and Atleti initiated a break ended with Renan Lodi nodding at them.
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United Players complained – claiming they should have been fouled but to no avail.
Just after the break a clever pass from Bruno Fernandes sent Elanga wide but his low shot whizzed over and wide.
Diego Simeone’s men are masters at defending a lead and they kept the youngster marginalized until midway through the second half when he was replaced by Rashford.
None of the changes made by Rangnick could affect the outcome in the end as Atletico did what they always do and saw the game through.
It wasn’t to be United or Elanga’s night – but his day will surely come again.
His emergence was a rare bright spot in a miserable season at Old Trafford.
https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/17961892/anthony-elanga-emergence-bright-miserable-man-utd/ Anthony Elanga’s emergence was a rare bright spark in a miserable Man Utd season