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Anthony Elanga Saves Man Utd Blushes In UCL

Amid Manchester United's troubled campaign, Anthony Elanga's emergence has been an undoubted high point.

The young striker scored a crucial equaliser in Wednesday's first leg Champions League last-16 draw at Atletico Madrid, after coming on as a second-half substitute, calling it a moment he had always dreamed of.

Elanga also scored his second goal in nine Premier League appearances during Sunday's 4-2 win at Leeds. Including his debut effort at Wolves in the final game of last season, an overall top-flight return of three from 11 games is not bad given he has only completed the full 90 minutes twice.

For a club that prides itself on youth development, Elanga's emergence has provided a welcome respite from a series of devastating results, a managerial sacking, coaches departing, rumours of splits in the camp and players taking to social media to challenge statements their interim boss has made about them in press conferences.

And on Tuesday, Brazil midfielder Fred called the club's lack of long term plan "strange" and a "little bit bad", adding "At the moment it's all about the short-term goals."

It would be wrong to give Rangnick all the credit for Elanga's recent development.

Predecessor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gave the Sweden Under-21 striker his debut last season and had promoted him to train with the first-team squad this season.

It is how Rangnick also saw Elanga at first hand the day after United had beaten Arsenal on 2 December, when training on the German's first day in charge was conducted with restricted numbers because of the number of players doing warm-down sessions.

Rangnick was impressed enough to seek out YouTube clips of a player he had monitored previously during his time at RB Leipzig. Until then, the feeling had been that Elanga might benefit from a January loan move.

So impressive was he in those early days the plan was quickly changed. Rangnick even toyed with the idea of giving the teenager a shock start in the weekend encounter with Crystal Palace - but was then introduced from the bench.

"From the very first training session, the day before the Crystal Palace game, he just showed me," recalled Rangnick. "He was showing up in the training sessions.

"He's a very polite boy, he's doing the right things, listens to what he should do and is trying to put all the effort into his performances."

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