22.10.2021 » Ronaldo saved United again in Champions League win over Atalanta
Manchester United performed another stunning second-half comeback to beat Atalanta 3-2 in the Champions League this Wednesday night, although the scoreline and pattern of results did not match what most online sportsbooks and social media betting punters had expected. The Red Devils came from behind to defeat Villarreal 2-1 at Old Trafford in the previous UEFA Champions League route en route to bouncing back from an embarrassing 2-1 away loss to Young Boys in their Group F curtain-raiser. Man United are now top of their group with 2 wins in 3 fixtures played so far, holding Villarreal and Atalanta in 2nd and 3rd place respectively, both with 2 points less.
Cristiano Ronaldo - United's saviour:
A vital win under pressure...
However, a run of three Premier League fixtures without a win (D1, L2) brought Ole Gunnar Solskjaer under heavy scrutiny headed into United's must-win Champions League clash against Serie A side Atalanta.
La Dea utility man Mario Pasalic silenced Old Trafford in the 15th minute, slotting the ball past David de Gea from point-blank range to put the Italians in front.
Things went from bad to worse for the three-time European Cup winners when Juventus loanee Merih Demiral outmaneuvered Harry Maguire to guide his free-header into the bottom right corner and double Atalanta's lead on the cusp of the half-hour mark.
Despite producing several decent scoring opportunities, Solskajer's side failed to find the way to beat the opposition shot-stopper Juan Musso in the first half, with Marcus Rashford coming closest to scoring on the stroke of half-time.
Though he saw his last-ditch first-half attempt rattle off the bar, the 24-year-old forward looked unfazed when he broke one-on-one with Musso eight minutes into the second half.
After Rashford pulled them one back, the Red Devils continued to apply the pressure on Atalanta's stubborn defence, but they struggled to find the finishing touch.
United's equaliser came from an unlikely source, as Maguire smashed his powerful first-time effort into the bottom right corner to spark comeback hopes with 15 minutes left to play.
Solskjaer, whose future in Manchester is up in the air, desperately needed a hero to step up and complete the turnaround, as Cristiano Ronaldo came up huge to answer his prayers.
Ronaldo came to the rescue... again!
After his last-gasp winner secured United a precious three points against Villarreal last time out, the 36-year-old superstar stole the show again to fire his side to the top of Group F.
Ronaldo rose above his markers to head Luke Shaw's pinpoint cross past goalkeeper Musso in the 81st minute of the keenly-contested affair, taking his Champions League tally to a staggering 137 goals.
The former Real Madrid ace had a relatively quiet night by his standards before heading home the winner.
Following a frustrating first half, where he barely had a chance to put Musso to the test, Cristiano had a golden opportunity to get on the scoresheet only three minutes after the break.
Bruno Fernandes' defence-splitting pass set Ronaldo up with a clear-cut opportunity, but the Argentina international thwarted his close-range attempt with ease.
Except for a couple of wayward free-kicks, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner looked like a genuine attacking threat in the second half, forcing eye-catching Musso's save just beyond the hour mark.
Thrilled by Ronaldo's late heroics, Maguire waxed lyrical about his teammate's header in the aftermath.
"I had eyes on it all the way. I was right behind him. His leap, his timing, it was perfect right in the corner," he told BT Sport.
"We see it day in, day out in training and in the goals he has scored throughout his career.
"He has come up with a massive goal for us again in the Champions League."
The Portugal captain has now racked up six goals in eight appearances across all competitions this season, notably finding the net in all three Champions League outings to date, and is increasingly looked at by Football Today and other football news sites as the only player keeping United in line for a trophy this season.
Backed by another excellent Champions League performance, Ronaldo will be looking to break his three-game scoring duck in the Premier League when Man United meet Liverpool on Sunday.
Cristiano Ronaldo next game for Manchester United is on October 24, against Liverpool. You can watch Manchester United vs Liverpool, Leeds vs Wolverhampton, Bologna vs AC Milan, Brighton vs Manchester City, Chelsea vs Norwich, and Bayern Munich vs Hoffenheim, all matches provided from our sports live game pages.
Manchester United next game:
Manchester United vs Liverpool kick-off time (24-10-2021):
Beijing (China) | UTC/GMT+8: 23:30
Jakarta (Indonesia) | UTC/GMT+7: 22:30
India (New Delhi) | UTC/GMT+5.30: 21:00
Italy (Turin) | UTC/GMT+2: 17:30
Spain (Madrid) | UTC/GMT+2: 17:30
Portugal and England (Lisbon/London) | UTC/GMT+1: 16:30
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) | UTC/GMT-3: 12:30
New York (United States) | UTC/GMT-4: 11:30
Los Angeles (United States) | UTC/GMT-7: 08:30