Manchester United vs Atletico Madrid was balanced on a knife edge going into the second leg of their Champions League round of 16 clash.
With Joao Felix and Anthony Elanga exchanging goals during the opening game at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, it was a simple case of ‘winner takes all’ on Tuesday evening.
And the opening 45 minutes weren’t exactly lacking in the entertainment department with United immediately looking far more lively and penetrative than they had in the first leg.
Drama aplenty at Old Trafford
In fact, Elanga should have added another goal against Atletico to his CV during the opening exchanges when a close-range effort of his found the face of Jan Oblak and not the back of the net.
However, you’re only ever a few minutes away from conceding when you’re up against Atletico with Rodrigo De Paul reminding Old Trafford of that fact when his sighter was batted away by David de Gea.
But of all the edge-of-the-seat moments that transpired across an eventful first-half, Fred channelling his inner Ronaldinho was the unexpected flashpoint that we never knew we needed.
Fred’s naughty piece of skill
While there’s good reason to think that a lot of the criticism Fred receives from United fans is hyperbolic, even his biggest defenders would admit that he’s turned in some shocking displays this season.
Nevertheless, the Brazilian midfielder continued his steady renaissance under Ralf Rangnick with a brilliant first-half that peaked with a gorgeous piece of skill in the penalty area, duly silencing the doubters.
The 29-year-old might not be known for his skill moves, but you wouldn’t have known that when he turned on the style with a stunning trick that you can watch down below:
Fred this is naughty 😮https://t.co/O8BNGf0fcr— Ali (@UtdAlii) March 15, 2022
Fred woke up this morning and chose destruction.
United knocked out despite Fred’s efforts
As one of the above tweeters so eloquently put, Fred seemed to channel both Ronaldinho and Dimitar Berbatov – if you know, you know – to wow the Old Trafford crowd.
However, despite’s Fred silky footwork proving typical of his strong first-half display, it wasn’t enough to prevent Atletico from taking the lead with Renan Lodi heading home on 41 minutes.
Some shocking marking at the back post saw the Brazilian full-back arrive on the scene to break the deadlock, leaving United to bite down on their gum shield in the hope of clawing things back.
But there simply wasn’t enough time for the hosts to get themselves back into the game with even Fred’s best efforts, as well as his finest skills, not proving enough to save United from a 1-0 defeat.