Atlético Madrid left-back Renan Lodi heads past Manchester United's Diogo Dalot (left) to score his side's only goal in the Champions League round of 16 second leg on Tuesday (March 15) 2022.

Antoine Griezmann’s Atlético Madrid won Tuesday, March 15 on the lawn of Manchester United (1-0) in the knockout stages of the Champions League after a draw in the first leg (1-1), qualifying thus for the quarter-finals, at the same time as Benfica Lisbon, which eliminated Ajax Amsterdam with a 1-0 victory after a draw in the first leg (2-2).

Faced with the Red Devils having confirmed their difficulty in capitalizing on their strong moments, Atlético will have applied old recipes such as the arrival of Diego Simeone on the bench, eleven years ago, with a faultless defensive organization, a fighting spirit at all times, but also a real audacity in forward projections.

The best proof of this is the goal, on a dosed cross from Antoine Griezmann, from Renan Lodi, left alone at the far post while five Spanish players were in the opposing box, and whose pricked header found the Mancunian net just before the half time (1-0, 41and).

Lack of realism

However, it was not so much because of his defensive shortcomings that Manchester United lost this second leg, nor the individual failures of a transparent Scott McTominay or a never really dangerous Cristiano Ronaldo, but rather his lack of realism. , the Red Devils failing to achieve several good actions.

From the 13and minute, on one of Manchester United’s rare flowing sequences and in the right tempo, Anthony Elanga was found three meters from goal by Bruno Fernandes, but his point-blank shot was repelled by the face of Jan Oblak, at which the qualification owes much. The Slovenian goalkeeper was also flawless on a floating shot from Fernandes, just before the break (45and+2) and on a header from Raphaël Varane that he pulled out of his skylight (77and).

Qualification for the Champions League next season via the championship is very compromised, so Manchester United may have said goodbye to him for two years tonight. Also eliminated in the FA Cup, the Red Devils will end the season without a trophy, with a huge construction site at all levels to become competitive at the highest level.

Benfica surprises

In the other meeting of the evening, a surgical Benfica Lisbon, failing to have been spectacular, qualified for the quarters by winning the field of Ajax, 1 to 0, at the Johan-Cruyff Arena in ‘Amsterdam.

The Portuguese club, only third in its championship after twenty-six days, managed to reach the top 8 of the prestigious Champions League thanks to a goal from Uruguayan Darwin Nunez in the 77thand minute, his fourth this season in the Champions League.

Benfica, winner of the Champions League in 1961 and 1962 and five-time finalist, the last of which in 1990, had not reached this stage of the competition since 2016.

It’s a great success for the new Portuguese coach Nelson Verissimo, who arrived at the end of December, even if this victory only reflects badly on the course of a meeting during which Ajax, leaders of their championship and undefeated this season in the League of champions, had possession of the ball 69% of the time.

Benfica Lisbon and Atlético Madrid therefore fly to the quarter-finals, where they will find Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Manchester City, who qualified last week. The last two places to take will be disputed this Wednesday evening between Lille and Chelsea (2-0 for the Blues in the first leg) and Juventus Turin and Villarreal (1-1).

The World with AFP