Manchester United was down 2-0 at halftime vs. Atalanta, but goals from Marcus Rashford, Harry Maguire, and Cristiano Ronaldo eased the pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s shoulders and kept the three points at Old Trafford. United consolidated a good position in their Champions League group as the chase for a place in the knockout stages heats up.
The Red Devils lost 4-2 against Leicester in the Premier League over the weekend, and sources needed to confirm that Solskjaer still had the club’s backing after a disappointing run that saw United drop to sixth in the table.
United’s fans feared for the worst after the first 45 minutes against Atalanta. The Italians had a two-goal advantage before the half-hour mark. The two goals scored by Mario Pasalic (’15) and Merih Demiral (’28) dug a hole full of disbelief, which United finally managed to swim across miraculously.
The second half was a different affair, to the joy of the hosts. Rashford scored after 53 minutes from a fantastic Bruno Fernandes assist before Maguire leveled things up with 15 minutes left in the game. Just like in the game against Villarreal in the previous round of the group stage, Ronaldo had the last shout. The Portuguese striker won the game for Manchester United with a header following a cross from Luke Shaw.
Manchester United – Atalanta 3-2. You can watch the goals here.
Bruno is everywhere, Ronaldo scores when he wants
Against Atalanta, Manchester United conceded for the 12th consecutive home game across all competitions, not being able to keep a clean sheet at Old Trafford since April. The second-half performance managed to shift the attention toward what United did well in the game, though, with the focus on Ronaldo’s determination, Bruno Fernandes’ influence, and a few records set.
Fernandes assisted a goal for United in each of the three Champions League games this season against Young Boys, Villarreal, and Atalanta. He created no fewer than eight chances on Wednesday evening, an unmatched performance by any player during this Champions League campaign. He holds the same provisional record in Premier League, with 10 chances created against Aston Villa last month.
Fernandes terrorized Atalanta’s defense throughout the match; he sent the most passes into their box from all the United players (17), the most crosses (13), and the most through balls (2). He also won 10 duels and got fouled on five occasions. Ironically, Fernandes also made the most tackles (4) and recovered six balls, as he won the Man of the Match award after the final whistle.
Ronaldo is the first player to score against 38 different teams in the Champions League. His goal against Atalanta is the 140th he scored with a header. As he was celebrating United’s win, Ronaldo was just inches away from being greeted by an invader who ran the length of the pitch to reach him. Stewards stopped the supporter at the last second.
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) October 20, 2021
United lead Group F
Thanks to their win vs Atalanta, Man. United now sits first in Group F with six points in three games while Atalanta is second with four points. Villarreal, 4-1 winners in Bern over Young Boys, are third, also on four points. Young Boys, the surprise winners in front of Manchester United in the first group game, are at the bottom with three points.