Paul Scholes and Robbie Savage had different opinions on Anthony Elanga’s goal for Manchester United against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night. Elanga came off the bench to net an 80th-minute equaliser for United in their 1-1 draw against Atleti in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie in Madrid.
It was a hugely important goal for Ralf Rangnick’s side, who had been on the back foot for the vast majority of the tie.
Joao Felix gave Diego Simeone’s side the lead with a brilliant diving header from Renan Lodi’s near-post cross.
Atleti dominated the game from there on in, but failed to double their lead and were made to pay late on.
Elanga came off the bench for Marcus Rashford in the 75th minute and made an impact five minutes later by running onto Bruno Fernandes’ through-ball to beat Jan Oblak.
“You’ve got to say, Oblak comes across way too far at that near post. Elanga, he looks at the goalkeeper and he just slides it, not even into the corner.
“Look at the goalkeeper’s position – Oblak is miles too far across. But I’ll tell you what: cool, calm and what a goal for Manchester United.”
Elanga has won the trust of interim manager Rangnick, who has now used him in 11 successive games, either as a starter or off the substitutes’ bench.
The goal in Madrid was his third in 14 appearances this season and his second in successive games, following his strike in the 4-2 win over Leeds.
Former United midfielder Scholes praised Rangnick’s decision to bring Elanga on, but thought his goal owed a lot to good fortune.
“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.”
Elanga was delighted with his goal, which came from United’s first shot on target and, he believes, his first touch.
“Think it was my first touch as well,” he told BT Sport.
“I have dreamt of moments like this, scoring in the Champions League against top European teams like Atletico Madrid, a dream come true.
“It is only the first half, we have to be ready for the second half at Old Trafford.
“I told you how calm and cool I am and whenever I am given an opportunity I want to repay the manager and give 150 per cent every time I step onto the pitch.
“I just do what I can do, I want to be the best player on the pitch and I appreciate the boss.”