Cristiano Ronaldo has scored the late winner nine minutes from time as Manchester United came back from two goals down to record a stunning Champions League triumph against Atalanta at Old Trafford.
Manchester United’s lack of invention in the first half can be seen from the fact that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side had been booed off at the break as they were behind two goals from Mario Pasalic and Merih Demiral.
The jeers turned to cheers as United, roared on by an increasingly frenzied crowd, rallied to complete one of their great European victories.
In the eighth minute of the second half Marcus Rashford after missing some early chances reduced Atlanta’s lead with an excellent finish in the left corner of the goal before the skipper Harry Maguire found acres of space at the far post to get on the end of Edinson Cavani’s flick and score the second.
However, it was, not so surprisingly, Ronaldo, just as he did some weeks ago against Villarreal.
This time it was with one of his trademark thumping headers as he rose to meet Luke Shaw’s cross and find the bottom corner to send United to the top of Group F.
United tore into their opponents and both Ronaldo and Rashford could have scored before the England man did, converting a brilliant pass from Bruno Fernandes by opening his body up and finding the far corner.
McTominay hit a post and Ronaldo had another shot saved as United continued to build pressure, in much the same way as Sir Alex Ferguson’s great teams used to when they found themselves in a spot of bother.
The problem is Ferguson’s teams tended to be defensively secure. Solskjaer’s most definitely is not and David de Gea needed to make acrobatic saves to deny Luis Muriel and Ruslan Malinovskyi at a point when had they conceded again, United would surely have lost.
As it was, they survived, regrouped, and – with Pogba, Jadon Sancho and Cavani introduced – went again.
Maguire’s finish had plenty of feeling behind it. So had Ronaldo’s celebration as he sank to his knees and did a double fist-pump after once more becoming the United hero.
‘Ole, Ole, Ole’
This was another one of those nights when Solskjaer seemed to pull it out of the bag just as his Old Trafford reign was about to be seriously called into question.
However, the home fans at least made their feelings known before kick-off with a long rendition of ‘Ole’s at the wheel’, before the familiar ‘Ole, Ole, Ole’ chant rang around Old Trafford.
Once the game had started, ‘Who put the ball in the German net’ was heard. That song is in honor of Solskjaer’s most famous goal, the Champions League winner in 1999 that ensures he will always be a hero at the club, no matter how his managerial reign works out.
The problem for Solskjaer is that the managing bit has not been going well at all.
Brave enough to drop Paul Pogba following Saturday’s defeat at Leicester, when the United boss bemoaned his side’s defending at set-pieces and said something had to change, Solskjaer was rewarded by one of the Frenchman’s midfield replacements going missing for the Atalanta opener before his side conceded a second at a corner.
From a position of limited danger, United was suddenly in loads of it, purely because Davide Zappacosta’s overlapping run went completely unchecked as Scott McTominay failed to react. The low cross invited the finish, which Pasalic duly applied from inside the six-yard box.
It was the fifth time in seven home Champions League games under Solskjaer that United had fallen behind.
With the upcoming fixtures with Liverpool, Tottenham, another meeting with Atalanta, and Manchester City to come before the next international break, no one can be too sure where would United go from here.
Other Results of the night
In other matches, Bayern Munich thrashed Benfica by 4-0. In Barcelona V Dynamo Kyiv, Pique’s scored the only goal of the match to end their losing start. Salzburg has stunned Dortmund by 3-1.
Moreover, Chelsea’s 4-0 win over Malmo at Stamford Bridge put their Champions League campaign back on track. Villareal has beaten Young Boys by 4-1 whereas Lillie and Sevilla have tied and Zenit is defeated by Juventus.