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Man United endures worst silverware drought in 40 years as they're dumped out of CL by Atletico Madrid

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15th March, 2022
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A first-half headed goal from Renan Lodi and defensive masterclass have secured Atletico Madrid a deserved 1-0 win at Manchester United to earn a place in the Champions League quarter-finals.

United could not find a breakthrough after a promising start and Lodi’s clinical finish for the only goal at Old Trafford gave Atletico a 2-1 aggregate win after a 1-1 first-leg draw in Madrid.

Elimination from the Champions League heaps misery on United who are only fifth in the Premier League and are unlikely to qualify for the elite competition next term. They will fail to win a trophy again this season.

Their last trophy was the Europa League title in 2017 and means the earliest United can achieve silverware is by winning next season’s League Cup final, which is due to take place on February 26, 2023.

After victory in the 1977 FA Cup, they had to wait until 1983 for their next triumph when they won the competition again.

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United’s win rate of 45 per cent in all competitions this season is their lowest since 1989-90.

Atletico have also had their domestic difficulties after their stunning La Liga title triumph in 2021 but their progress shows coach Diego Simeone has not completely lost his magic touch.

In Amsterdam, two-time winners Benfica performed a classic smash and grab to eliminate four-time champions Ajax thanks to Darwin Nunez’s late header.

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Benfica were second best throughout but somehow survived Ajax’s onslaught and go through 3-2 on aggregate.

Manchester City, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are already in the quarter-final draw which will be made Friday.

Title-holders Chelsea aim to join them on Wednesday when they defend a 2-0 lead at Lille while Juventus and Villarreal resume in Turin tied 1-1.

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A loud Old Trafford roared early when Anthony Elanga — whose equaliser in the first leg rescued a poor United performance — out-jumped keeper Jan Oblak to head just over and the Swedish forward went even closer moments later.

A sweeping move produced a cross from the right but Elanga’s goal-bound effort from the near post smacked Oblak in the head and flew to safety.

Atletico slowly came into the tie and only a marginal offside on Marcos Llorente resulted in Joao Felix’s tap-in being ruled out.

United didn’t take the warning though and Felix’s clever backheel found Antoine Griezmann and his cross found Lodi at the back post to head home in the 41st minute.

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United pushed through the second half and Jadon Sancho volleyed wide before Oblak brilliantly kept out a Raphael Varane header.

Former Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo was totally contained by his old rivals and failed to have a single shot on goal.

Ajax started positively against Benfica and Sebastien Haller had a potential 12th goal in the tournament disallowed for offside.

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The Benfica goal led a charmed life and Ajax were punished when they conceded a soft free-kick crossed in by Alejandro Grimaldo.

Keeper Andre Onana was beaten to the ball by Nunez 13 minutes from time and Benfica had little difficulty in seeing out a shock win.

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