That boy Ronaldo….has done it again! The Portuguese superstar scored the winner in the 81st minute to complete United’s incredible comeback having been 0-2 down at the half.
In classic Manchester United fashion, United found themselves going behind after 15 minutes. A quick free-kick found the Old Trafford outfit slow to react and a simple ball across the box wasn’t dealt with leaving Mario Pasalic a tap in from 5 yards. Having started sloppy again, it was no surprise that the reds were one-nil down.
United were trying to impose themselves on the game but poor decision-making and some sloppy passing in the final third meant chances were hard to come by. Fred having the only notable chance but fired straight at Russo who palmed it away for a corner.
It wasn’t long before Atalanta then doubled their lead. A corner swung in found the unmarked Demiral who probably couldn’t believe how easy it was to gain a few yards of free space in the 6-yard box as he headed home. Harry Maguire was found stuck in the mud and could only watch as Demiral ran past him and put the header in the far corner. United were in disarray.
The Manchester club had the better ending to the half, however, creating two big opportunities for the returning Marcus Rashford. Both were supplied by Bruno Fernandes who came deep to try and dictate the game. The first was a lovely long ball from the right-back position which landed perfectly to the on-rushing Rashford, but he was hesitating to shoot on his weaker left foot and Demiral managed to chase back with a last-ditch tackle. The second chance for Rashford came on the stroke of halftime, Bruno clips a great ball over the defence, and Rashford from a tight angle clipped the bar with his effort, he would have been disappointed to miss that. Another chance that went begging.
Boos rang around Old Trafford at the halftime whistle, with many wondering if United could salvage anything from this game?
Solskjaer must have played the “Thursday nights are Europa nights” song from BT Sports advert for the Europa League at halftime because United came out looking and playing like a completely different team. 36-year-old Ronaldo was running like he was 21 again. The intensity in United’s play was fantastic, the passing and movement was slick. Why does it always take going a goal or two down to see this type of tenacity from the players?
Nonetheless, United were back in with a shout following a lovely bit of play which saw Fernandes slide in Rashford with a superb pass. Rashford received the ball on the left side of the box, opened up his body in Thierry Henry fashion, and bent it into the far corner around the keeper. Great finish. United continued to press and fashioned chances for Mctominay and Ronaldo, with one hitting the post and the other firing straight at the keeper.
Atalanta though remained a threat on the counter-attack, and with one long ball over the top, Duvan Zapata turned Lindelof with ease but fired straight at De Gea who saved with his feet, the rebound fell to Malinovskiy who forced another good save from the Spaniard. Keeping United in the game.
The equaliser finally came when a Fernandes cross evaded everyone to find unmarked centre half Harry Maguire, who fired home a lovely finish into the bottom left-hand corner. Nothing short of deserved for the reds.
United continued to push bodies forward in the hope of finding the winner, in the 80th minute some good play from Pogba and Shaw found Ronaldo, he slipped a ball into Fernandes who cut inside on his left foot but fired straight down the throat of Musso. United fans left wondering if they were ever going to get the winner!
And inevitably it came. From Mr Inevitable himself. Just one minute on from the Fernandes chance, United were ahead. The ball was cleared from a corner to find Shaw, who played a one-two with Fred, whipped in a pinpoint cross to that boy Ronaldo, whose thunderous header found the bottom left corner of the goal from the penalty spot leaving Musso with no chance and the travelling Atalanta fans stunned. Comeback complete.
A big result in the end for United who go into the big clash against rivals Liverpool on Sunday with a little bit of a confidence boost following that performance. Liverpool beat Atletico Madrid on Tuesday evening.
Will that boy Ronaldo pop up with another winner?
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