Cristiano Ronaldo scores the winner for Manchester United. Credit: Getty.
Manchester United came from behind to beat Atalanta 3-2 in the Champions League on Wednesday in a pulsating night at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils went in at the break two goals down after Mario Pasalic and Merih Demiral netted for the visitors, but a second-half fightback will help to ease some of the pressure on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and strengthen their hopes of qualifying for the next stage of the Champions League.
It was Marcus Rashford who netted the Red Devils’ first after the break before Harry Maguire smashed in the equaliser. And with just under 10 minutes remaining who rose highest to knock in a header? You guessed it: Cristiano Ronaldo.
It’s a result that remarkably leaves United top of Group F after three matches and they’ll hope that feel-good factor can roll into Sunday’s Premier League clash with Liverpool.
- Marcus Rashford: Starting his first game of the season, Rashford’s speed caused the Atalanta defence repeated problems in the first half, and eight minutes after the interval he slotted home from a relatively acute angle and halved the deficit for the Red Devils.
- Villarreal: Their win in Switzerland, coupled with the scoreline at Old Trafford, drastically increases Villarreal’s hopes of qualification. They now sit third on four points, the same number as Atalanta.
- Bruno Fernandes: Things didn’t quite come off for the No.18 in the first period, although he was never shy in receiving the ball and looking to create chances. Fernandes set up both of United’s first two goals and was at the centre of most of their attacks throughout the night.
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: His name wasn’t on the heroes list during the first edit, but that second-half turnaround could prove to be one of Red Devils’ biggest results of the season. Solskjaer deserves some credit for his offensive substitutions in the second half, even if the team still lack a clear structure in possession.
- United Defenders: United’s defensive record simply isn’t good enough and they conceded two more sloppy goals on Wednesday. It was too easy for Davide Zappacosta to advance down the Atalanta right for the first, while Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw didn’t cover themselves in glory for Demiral’s header.
- Gian Piero Gasperini: The Atalanta manager will be disappointed with how his side performed at Old Trafford. Even in the first half they weren’t particularly impressive, but the second-half collapse will be a cause of great concern for Gasperini. It also means they missed a major chance to extend their lead at the top of the table.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): De Gea 7; Wan-Bisakka 5, Lindelof 5, Maguire 6, Shaw 6; McTominay 6 (Pogba 66; 7), Fred 7 (Matic 88); Greenwood 5 (Sancho 73), Fernandes 8, Rashford 8 (Cavani 67;); Ronaldo 7.
Atalanta (3-4-1-2): Musso 6; De Roon 5, Demiral 8 (Lovato 46;), Palomino 5; Zappacosta 6, Koopmeiners 5 (Pezzella 81), Freuler 5, Maehle 5; Pasalic 6 (Malinovskiy 68;5); Ilicic 6 (Miranchuk 68;5), Muriel 5 (Zapata 56;4).
Man of the Match
We’ll just go for Fernandes ahead of Rashford. The former Sporting man was at the heart of all of United’s moves on the night, excluding Ronaldo’s winner, which was supplied by Luke Shaw’s excellent cross.
It’s one huge game after another now for United who host Liverpool next in the Premier League on Sunday. Their rivals from Merseyside warmed up for the clash with an impressive 3-2 win away to Atletico Madrid and are still unbeaten in the league this season.