Manchester United rescued a draw against Spanish champion Atletico Madrid after teenage substitute Anthony Elanga equalized for the Red Devils Manchester United just minutes after his introduction in the Champions League match Wednesday.
Elanga calmly slotted past keeper Jan Oblak with 10 minutes remaining to earn United a draw it scarcely deserved from extremely limited performance.
Atletico needed only seven minutes to open the scoring through Joao Felix's spectacular header but it could not find a second goal and was punished by the 19-year-old Elanga just five minutes after he left the bench.
United, fourth in the Premier League, will now be slight favorites to progress at the expense of Atletico – a disappointing fifth in La Liga – in the March 15 return leg.
"We didn’t play the best football in the first half, but with the substitutions, we made in the second half we stepped up a bit," Elanga told BT Sport.
"(Manager Ralf Rangnick) told me to just make the defenders scared and when I get an opportunity, take it."
Elanga became the club's youngest-ever scorer in the knockout stages of the Champions League and has the honor of bagging United's 500th goal in the elite European tournament.
I have dreamt of moments like this, scoring in the Champions League, a big occasion like this against a top European team in Atletico Madrid, it is a dream come true," he said.
Atletico's goal was a wonderful diving header from Felix, who was lively throughout in contrast to Portuguese compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo.
The former Real Madrid star was starved of service against his old rivals and had a frustrating night.
But a superb pass from Bruno Fernandes released Elanga and spared the blushes of the under-pressure Rangnick.
"I don’t know if I rescued it (with the substitutions)," the German boss said. "After the performance in the first half, it could only get better."
It could still have been different had a deflection off United defender Victor Lindelof sneaked under rather than onto the bar before halftime and Antoine Griezmann was also denied a late winner by the woodwork though may have been marginally offside.
"Almost everything we did in the game, we did really well," said Atletico coach Diego Simeone. "You'd think the advantage was with them, but with the away, goals rule change that's not the case."
There is also everything to play for in Amsterdam that night when Ajax and Benfica resume after a 2-2 draw in Lisbon.
Dusan Tadic and Sebastien Haller – with his 11th goal in seven career Champions League games – twice put Ajax in front only for Haller's own goal and Roman Yaremchuk to ensure the clash between the two former champions with six titles between them ended level.
"Every goal is important and it’s good that we scored two, but in the second half we should have created more with our qualities," Ajax captain Tadic told RTL7.
But he added: "We will have a full stadium in Amsterdam and we know we can win.”
Holders Chelsea beat Lille 2-0 on Tuesday when Juventus drew 1-1 at Villarreal. The first second legs take place on March 8.