Cristiano Ronaldo strikes late in both halves to haul Manchester United to a 2-2 draw with Atalanta, who lead twice through Josip Ilicic and Duvan Zapata goals. United joint top of Group F going into crucial clash at Villarreal
Dismal United & Threatening Atlanta
United’s fond memories of their 3-0 win at Tottenham on Saturday were banished inside 12 minutes when Josip Ilicic fired Atalanta ahead from Duvan Zapata’s cross. With the help from David de Gea’s fumble of the Slovenian’s relatively straightforward effort. A fine one-touch move pulled United level at the end of a familiarly uninspiring first half. Courtesy of Bruno Fernandes’ perfect backheel teed up Ronaldo to take a touch and beat Juan Musso from eight yards.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side came out looking sharper after the break but found themselves behind again 11 minutes into the second half. Josese Palomino’s ball in behind caught out the United defence and found Zapata just onside. But, after beating De Gea at his near post, he was made to wait more than two minutes for a VAR review to overturn the linesman’s initial raised flag. This regained Atalanta the lead.
United pushed but could not find a way to test Musso. But more Ronaldo brilliance in injury-time saw the veteran find the bottom corner with a 20-yard volley to earn another spectacular last-gasp result. But the match raised more questions than answers for Solskjaer and his team.
United Player Ratings
David de Gea: 4
Committed his first outright mistake of the season. He let Josip Ilicic’s straight shot through him. Could have come off his line for Duvan Zapata’s goal.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: 5
Too porous against Zapata for the opening goal. He was not anywhere near as proactive in the opponent’s half as on Saturday.
Eric Bailly: 8
Bailed out United a couple of times. He impressed only in his second appearance of the season. Effectively a one-man defence.
Raphael Varane: 5
Came off injured in the first-half. Would be a potential disaster if he is missing for the derby on Saturday.
Harry Maguire: 3
Often off the pace and slow to react. Looking to the linesman after Ilicic struck was weak. Shambolic for Zapata’s goal and looked to the linesman again.
Luke Shaw: 5
Lax when Ilicic made himself available to Zapata to make it 1-0 for Atalanta. He did not provide much width for the goalscorers. 5
Scott McTominay: 5
Hit the post with a deflected shot in the fourth minute. Got booked and then continued committing fouls.
Paul Pogba: 2
Hardly any strength and unity. No United player needed a performance more than Pogba and he failed to deliver. A disasterclass.
Bruno Fernandes: 6
Did little until he broke into the area to latch onto Mason Greenwood’s pass and classily backheel for Cristiano Ronaldo.
Marcus Rashford: 4
Quiet in the first-half alongside Ronaldo and even quieter in the second. Eventually made way for Edinson Cavani.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 8
Set out his stall with a shot in the first minute and equalised clinically just before half-time. Lacked service in the second-half. But still pulled United out of the mire.
Nemanja Matic: 6
Solid defending but quite sloppy in the middle.
Mason Greenwood: 6
Involved in both the goals and was looking dangerous.
Edinson Cavani: 6
Played a lot of sloppy passes
Donny van de Beek: 6
Had very little time but still had his role in the equaliser and nearly scored a late winner. He deserves more minutes to play.
Jadon Sancho: N/A
He came on very late.
Ole at the Wheel?
The United manager was once again spared the pressure that a poor performance would have brought. Despite the fact that the outcome was achieved thanks to two goals that were not the consequence of any game plan devised by the Norwegian. The genius of Ronaldo and Fernandes did it once, while the main guy did it twice to cover Solskjaer’s flaws until the next time it falls flat.