It was a pulsating night of Champion’s League football as Atletico, United, Benfica and Ajax were held in the first leg of their last 16 match. What a night! What a game! Amazing couple of games they were. Evenly matched were the teams. It served for a thrilling couple of games. And it’s anyone’s guess as to who is making it to the quarter final as Atletico, United, Benfica and Ajax were all held to draws. All level!
Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United
Like we anticipated, United were seeking to emulate the three other English sides left in the Champions League by securing a first-leg lead in the first knockout round. And interim coach Ralf Rangnick said on the eve of the trip to Madrid that he was prioritising this competition. Strong words. However, his side fell behind to a beautiful goal by Joao Felix within seven minutes of kick-off in Spain.
Having cleared the initial corner, Atleti left-back Renan Lodi swung in a cross from the left that Joao Felix raced past Harry Maguire to greet with a stunning header that went in off the near post. Indeed, it was stunning. United’s goalie was rooted to a spot. Subsequently, teenage sensation Anthony Elanga came to Manchester United’s rescue. Firstly, he latched onto Bruno Fernandes’ pass. Secondly, he reversed his shot across Jan Oblak into the bottom corner. Wheeling away, jubilant scenes followed.
That goal claimed an unlikely 1-1 draw for Manchester United at Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie in the Spanish capital. All square. Half time. Game on!
Benfica vs Ajax
Meanwhile, in the midst of the Ukraine-Russia saga, Ukraine international Roman Yaremchuk saved Benfica after Ajax’s Sebastien Haller scores at both ends. As a result, it’s still all to play for. Not only did the free scoring Haller take his tally in this season’s competition to 11 goals in seven games, he also contributed an own goal in a pulsating clash at the Estádio da Luz. Born goal scorer!
Ajax were ahead after 18 minutes through their captain, Dusan Tadic, but an unfortunate own goal from Haller levelled matters seven minutes later. Not for long though. Haller made amends in the 29th minute. Benfica would level matters again though. A second-half header from substitute Roman Yaremchuk ensured a draw for the hosts and a boost to their hopes in the second leg next month. It’s still all to play for at the Amsterdam Arena on 15 March.
The last 16 first leg of matches are complete. Some teams have one foot in the Quarter final already, others still have it all to play for. You won’t have to wait too long however. Just make your Cable TV payments, pay electricity bills, buy airtime and data easily with VTpass now so you don’t miss out on any of the beautiful action when it resumes on Tuesday, March 8.