Manchester United were second-best throughout large spells of their Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid. However, David De Gea believes a draw was a ‘fair result’ after Anthony Elanga cancelled out Joao Felix’s opener. The Swede’s effort means the tie is now very much in the balance ahead of the return leg on March 15.
United went into their game with Atletico hoping to make it three wins in a row, having previously beaten Brighton and Leeds.
However, they put in a subdued showing in Spain with Elanga their saviour by scoring with 10 minutes left on the clock.
The stats, certainly, show United weren’t on top.
Though they had more of the ball, stung more passes and had a better pass accuracy, they managed less shots than their La Liga counterparts.
Indeed, Atletico were the more threatening side – hitting the woodwork in either half through Sime Vrsaljk and Antoine Griezmann.
Had those gone in, things would have been extremely different.
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Yet De Gea, speaking to BeIN Sport, thinks United deserved a draw and that the result was a ‘fair one’, while also hailing Elanga for his goal.
“It was great to be back at home in Madrid,” said the 31-year-old, who joined from Atletico 11 years ago.
“It was strange because I played for this club but it is football.
“We are Manchester United, we wanted to win, it was a tight game and both teams had a couple of chances in the whole game. The draw is a fair result.
“We came to a very difficult pitch against a very good team, they started with more intensity than us and won the 50-50s, they scored a very good goal.
“In the second half we showed that we have good character and we played good, scored a goal and everything to play at Old Trafford.
“He [Elanga] is playing very well, he has been an important player for us, still very young and has scored important goals for us. Massive for him and for us.
“The second leg will be 50-50, both teams can win but with the fans hopefully we can play better than today.
“Let’s win the game and be in the next round.”
Rio Ferdinand was performing punditry duties for BT Sport.
And the United legend feels his side were fortunate to get a result, branding their overall performance as ‘poor’.
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“Man United would’ve took that result before the game, but they were lucky tonight,” said the six-time Premier League winner.
“I thought they were poor in the first-half, second-half [they were] a touch better.
“For as bad as they played, David de Gea didn’t have too much to do today, so in terms of chances there wasn’t many.
“But you’re looking for a better performance and a bit more intensity from the players, cohesiveness and togetherness that wasn’t there today.
“But the goal, [Anthony] Elanga comes up and pops up with a great goal, Bruno [Fernandes] has got an assist in every Champions League game this season, as bad as he played up to that point.
“There’s a lot of stuff you’d moan about, but it’s 1-1 and they got a result.”
Paul Scholes was working alongside Ferdinand.
And the United hero even called Elanga’s goal ‘lucky’, believing the 22-year-old was able to net because of some bad goalkeeping from Jan Oblak.
“We even think the finish is a little bit lucky, you can question the goalkeeper,” Scholes said.
“He does get a little bit of drag on it. If you look from behind the goal the keeper just falls backwards and the ball is nowhere near the corner of the net.
“It’s more towards the middle. The keeper should do better.”
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