ATALANTA 2-2 MAN UNITED: CRISTIANO RONALDO TO THE RESCUE AGAIN FOR THE RED DEVILS
Cristiano Ronaldo put himself on centre stage last night as Manchester United snatched a point late on at the Stadio di Bergamo against Atalanta. It was another lacklustre performance from the Reds who laboured to a fortunate draw.
Atalanta opened the scoring through Josip Ilicic who struck early in the first half thanks to a rare goalkeeping error from David De Gea. Atalanta deserved to be ahead, and the Italian side felt they had done enough to be in front at halftime. However, Ronaldo had other ideas and when United sliced through Atalanta’s defence with quick and incisive passing, it was that man who tucked the ball home to level the scoring just before the break.
A poor first half for United was compounded when summer signing Raphael Varane was forced off due to an injury. Varane’s substitution forced a change in shape for United with them switching to a four-man defence rather than a five. Mason Greenwood was introduced for Varane, with Greenwood joining an attacking quartet of Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo.
United came out in the second half looking for a much-needed improvement from the first half but the second half was all to similar to the first, with Atalanta creating the chances and United looking shaky. The second half included VAR controversy when Duvan Zapata was originally adjudged to be in an offside position before putting the ball in the back of the net but upon a lengthy VAR review, the replays showed the Colombian to be onside and therefore the goal stood handing Atalanta a 2-1 lead on 56 minutes.
The Red Devils were fortunate not be further behind when Zapata had a go from range that forced a stop out of De Gea down low to his right. Eric Bailly was the standout from a shaky United defence and the Ivorian made numerous blocks and tackles that prevented openings and chances for the opposition.
The game appeared to drift away from United with very little goalmouth action happening in front of the travelling United contingent. The moment came for United just into added time when the ball sat up nicely for Ronaldo who struck the ball on the volley outside the area into the bottom corner leaving Atalanta’s keeper with no chance.
A perfect volley from the greatest goal scorer in the Champions League saved United in the dying embers of the game and meant that the spoils were shared on what was a tough night for Manchester United.
As for the situation in Group F, United sit joint top on seven points with Villarreal whereas Atalanta are third with five points. United face a difficult test away to Villarreal in their next Champions League fixture and Atalanta face Young Boys.
The result last night took a bit of pressure off Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who faces one of his biggest games in management on Saturday against rivals Manchester City.