Ronaldo Scored a Brace to Rescue a Point for United at Atalanta
Cristiano Ronaldo was the saviour, yet again, as his stunning last-minute volley secured a 2-2 draw for Manchester United against Atalanta at the death.
Man United started the game well and could have been ahead inside five minutes. Neat work from Paul Pogba on the edge of the 18-yard-box fashioned a chance for Scott McTominay, but his deflected shot agonisingly came back off the post. Much like the previous tie, the free-flowing Italian outfit emphatically took the lead. The ever-dangerous Duván Zapata beat the offside trap of Man United’s back three to cut back a fizzing cross which Josip Iličić fired in through David De Gea, who seemed unsighted.
Only a heroic Eric Bailly block from Zapata stopped Atalanta doubling their lead, and United’s dismal opening 35 minutes were compounded when Raphaël Varane departed through injury, forcing Ole Gunnar Solskjær to revert to a back-four system which had looked so shaky recently against Leicester and Liverpool. However, the change in approach allowed United’s attackers to express themselves and they found the equaliser in first-half stoppage time. A slick passing move resulted in Bruno Fernandes cleverly backheeling the ball to the onrushing Ronaldo, who buried his strike from 12 yards.
United have lost five of their last ten games in all competitions and went behind again against Gian Piero Gasperini’s side in the 56th minute. A clipped ball over the top allowed Zapata to race through and chip a finish over De Gea. The goal was initially ruled out for offside but, after a lengthy VAR review, the decision was overturned with the much-maligned Harry Maguire clearly playing the Colombian striker on.
Solskjær ultimately missed out on registering Man United’s 150th victory in Europe’s premier cup competition, but it could have been a lot worse were it not for Ronaldo, whose stunning strike from the edge of the area drew United level late on. The Portugal international’s fifth goal in four UEFA Champions League games this term sees United move to the top of Group F with two games remaining.