Champions League: Old Trafford saw Atlético at their very best
Jan Oblak jumps to gather Marcus Rashford’s corner, and brings it confidently into his arms. It’s all over. Manchester United had sent everyone up into the Atlético Madrid penalty area, including goalkeeper David de Gea, but Oblak took total charge of his 18-yard box. After a few months of worrying form from the Slovenian, he’s back to his best, and on Tuesday he dealt well with everything that came his way. Though it wasn’t a lot, it was testing. Oblak began by blocking a point-blank-range Anthony Elanga chance with his face, and finished off his night’s work by rising elegantly and serenely to silence Old Trafford once and for all. With Oblak once more in tip-top nick, the sky’s the limit for Atlético.
But don’t be fooled into thinking Atleti relied solely on Oblak. They were great in every department. The defence was disciplined; the midfield circulated possession effectively; full-backs Marcos Llorente and Renan Lodi were dangerous on the occasions they pushed forward; and, up front, João Félix and Antoine Griezmann worked very hard and used the ball well. Atleti were a team bearing the Simeone hallmark - a hallmark they had lost in recent times. A tight unit that lay in wait for space to exploit, played with commitment and focus, and gave nothing away for free. United had little answer to Atleti’s display, to the despair of Cristiano Ronaldo, who couldn’t carve out an opportunity to take aim at Oblak’s goal.
A night to savour for Atleti's vocal travelling fans
Before Atlético’s goal, created by João and Griezmann on the right and rounded off by Lodi on the left, the Portuguese had had a strike disallowed. That also came from a move down the right and a finish on the left, but on this occasion Llorente, who delivered the cross, was a hair’s breadth offside. Rodrigo de Paul also tested De Gea with a couple of powerful shots from range. Two years on from Anfield, another occasion when Atlético’s mass travelling support were left celebrating, Tuesday was a wonderful evening for the 3,000 fans who followed the team to Manchester. They never stopped singing. We saw, in every way, Atlético Madrid at their best. Los Rojiblancos were deserved winners at Old Trafford.