After Atletico Madrid’s victory, Manchester United are out of the Champions League

Lodi’s first-half header gave LaLiga’s defending champions a 2-1 aggregate victory after a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the last-16 meeting three weeks before.

Anthony Elanga scored the goal for United in Madrid, but he squandered an early chance to convert a ball from Bruno Fernandes, who had returned to the lineup after a positive COVID-19 test.

After Lodi’s first Champions League goal, which was enough to send Atletico into the quarterfinals for the second time in three seasons, Atletico sat back and made life difficult for United.

In the 13th minute, Jan Oblak saved a point-blank attempt from Elanga with his head, while David de Gea saved a 25-yard effort from Rodrigo de Paul. 

Midway through the first half, Atletico had the ball in the back of the net when Joao Felix tapped in an empty net at the back post, but Marcos Llorente, who provided the pass, was called offside.

Simeone’s team displayed the kind of tenacious defending and quick counter-attacking for which they are known, while United, despite their pressure, were unable to produce enough quality chances to score the goal they required.

After a floating cross from Antoine Griezmann, Lodi scored a diving header at the back post to give the visitors the lead on 41 minutes. After regaining control from Elanga, Atletico made the move. 

Masterclass by Simeone. Why couldn’t he do it to Ralf Rangnick’s Manchester United, as he did to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool? When Atletico Madrid had the ball, Diego Simeone and his team made sure to close down the danger zones for Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates, and Atleti proved lethal when it did.

When Joao Felix’s goal was called back for offside, United’s defence line ignored the warning shot, and Renan Lodi’s back-post header of an Antoine Griezmann cross — set up by a clever Joao Felix backheel pass — was too much for Diogo Dalot. This Atleti reminded me of Leicester City’s title-winning season, but with more top-tier attacking talent.

United felt cheated when the referee, Slavko Vincic, failed to award them a free-kick just before the goal. Elanga had rushed up the right flank and made contact with Reinildo Mandava, so the winger reasoned that by going down, he would win the decision. He didn’t do it. Perhaps he tripped at an inopportune moment.

The home audience began to believe that Vincic was working against them, and there were times when Atlético were content to indulge in the more sinister aspects of the game. Early in the second half, even the replacements got in on the act, stepping in the way of a United throw-in, prompting an angry ticking-off from the officials. You can imagine how well Luis Suárez was accepted as a member of the posse. 

Manchester United’s chances of winning the Champions League were slim to none. Even before the greatest clubs from continental Europe are evaluated, the Premier League standings illustrate the gap between them and their domestic opponents.

Despite this, United had a bad night since everything went as planned. After being exposed in the wide spaces and getting punished on the counter-attack, United’s next move was to try to break past Atletico Madrid’s defensive block. There aren’t enough creative ideas. 

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