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Soccer-Atletico wins at Old Trafford, knocking out United

Champions League - Round of 16 Second Leg - Manchester United v Atletico Madrid
Soccer Football – Champions League – Round of 16 Leg – Manchester United v Atletico Madrid – Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain – March 15, 2022 Atletico Madrid’s Renan Lodi celebrates scoring their first goal with team mates REUTERS/Phil Noble

March 16, 2022

By Simon Evans

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – Atletico Madrid knocked Manchester United out of the Champions League and advanced to the quarter-finals after a 41st-minute header from Brazilian Renan Lodi gave them a 1-0 win (2-1 on aggregate) at Old Trafford ) brought Tuesday.

It typified the kind of tenacious defense and quick counter-attacks that Diego Simeone’s Atletico side are known for, while United, for all their pressure, were unable to create enough good opportunities to score the needed goal.

United, who have not won a trophy since the Europa League in 2017, need to focus on a Premier League season where there is a real battle for the top four and a place in next year’s Champions League.

The Spanish champions may not be favorites to reach the final in Paris on May 28, but none of the teams in the last eight will hope to be drawn against him.

After Saturday’s win over Tottenham Hotspur, inspired by a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick, there was a positive mood at Old Trafford and the night got off to a bright start for United as Anthony Elanga forced a fine reflex save from Jan Oblak with a shot off the post from a Bruno -Fernandes Cross.

United’s Spain keeper David de Gea then made an excellent save to go wide of a shot from distance by Rodrigo De Paul.

Joao Felix then had the ball in the net and tapped in a Marcos Llorente cross but the shot was ruled out for offside.

There was no respite for United, however, as after a typical Atletico counterattack, a clever flick from Joao Felix found Antoine Griezmann, whose cross was nodded by Lodi at the back post.

United argued the move followed a foul on Elanga deep in Atletico’s half, but referee Slavko Vincic dismissed their protests.

Fernandes ended the half with a powerful shot that tested Oblak again and raised hopes for the home side ahead of the second half.

United, as expected, rushed forward after the break in search of an equaliser, but their attacks were unplanned or skilful.

LACK OF CREATIVITY

Interim manager Ralf Rangnick relied on strikers as he sought the breakthrough, leading Marcus Rashford and Edinson Cavani to play with Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho up front.

But his decision to eliminate Fernandes in the 67th minute left the team lacking in creativity and their attacks were increasingly just one-dimensional attacks on Atletico’s defence.

Captain Harry Maguire was sent off amid cheers from home support when Rangnick threw a shot at Spanish winger Juan Mata, but the next United to equalize was a lovely header from Raphael Varane, who had Oblak in full swing.

It was scrappy and at times cynical in Atletico’s final stages, but their disciplined defense held up for the win that sent them into the last eight.

“We want to go far in the competition and it’s incredible to still be there. It’s important for us to still be in the Champions League after a mixed season,” said midfielder Koke.

“For me, Jan Oblak is the best goalkeeper in the world. He showed it again tonight.”

Rangnick was upset with the game’s referees but had few complaints about his team’s performance.

“I think we played a very good first half – just the way we wanted to play with a lot of energy but we couldn’t convert that into a goal or two,” he said.

“Collecting that counterattack just before half-time didn’t make life any easier. In the second half it was tough and interrupted again and again. There was always someone on the floor.

“I would also say some curious refereeing decisions. I wouldn’t say they were crucial, but at least he fell for those time-wasting antics too often.”

(Reporting by Simon Evans, Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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