Manchester United beat Atalanta 3-2 in the UEFA Champions League. At half time, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were 2-0 down after Mario Pašalić and Merih Demiral scored in the first half. United seemed dejected, devoid of confidence, inspiration and motivation. Something must have been said during the break as eight minutes in, Marcus Rashford got a goal back with Harry Maguire equalising in the 75th minute and none other than Cristiano Ronaldo scoring the winner in the 81st minute of the match. It was a poor first half, the second half was better but winning this match from a losing position means the world.
Both teams started positively in this Champions League match. There were chances for each team and in the early stages of the half, but neither looked to take the game by the scruff of the neck. However, in the 15th minute of the match, Atalanta had taken the lead through Mario Pašalić with the assist coming from Davide Zappacosta. It was an awful goal for United to concede and was the story of how things are faring for the Old Trafford club this season. Solskjaer’s side would need to come back from this or see themselves in with a chance of falling out of the Champions League for the second time in consecutive seasons.
United seemed to be void of confidence, lacked any ability, hunger or desire. Just 14 minutes after conceding the first goal of the game, United conceded another, this time scored by Merih Demiral and assisted by Teun Koopmeiners. To be 2-0 down at Old Trafford in the Champions League was going to be costly for United, who still did not seem motivated by the second goal being conceded. At the end of the half, United had their best chance with Marcus Rashford through on goal but the goalkeeper ran off his line to cut the angle and ensure the United forward could not get a goal before the break.
There was going to be some shouting in the dressing room during the half time break. United needed something to motivate them as conceding two goals did not really do that. Solskjaer needed to have a plan b and a way of getting his team back into the match. The substitutes would need to change this game as nothing tried so far, had worked for United. Matteo Lovato replaced Demiral at the break with United still to make any changes. However, it took just eight minutes before United got back into the game through Rashford, scoring his second goal in two matches, assisted by Bruno Fernandes.
United started to dominate the game from the goal, pushing to press their opposition and having many changes to get an equaliser – which seemed to be coming at some point in the game. The atmosphere at Old Trafford was loud with the supporters aiming to motivate the players so they could find inspiration to push forward, get the equaliser then try to find the winner. Duván Zapata replaced Luis Muriel in the 56th minute for the away side and ten minutes later, Solskjaer made a double substitution with Paul Pogba and Edinson Cavani replacing Scott McTominay and Rashford.
Atalanta then brought on Aleksei Miranchuk and Ruslan Malinovskyi for Josip Iličić and Pašalić in the 68th minute as the away side were seeking to rejuvenate the squad and keep their lead. In the 73rd minute of the match, Jadon Sancho replaced Mason Greenwood with United seeming to further pressure to away side, which they did with Harry Maguire got the equaliser with Fernandes getting his second assist of the game. It was a devastating goal for the Italian side to concede but a great one for United to score. The Old Trafford faithful were in full voice at this moment, which would have ensure the team kept fighting for the win.
Just six minutes after levelling the score, United found the goal to put them ahead through none other than Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese forward had scored his sixth goal of the season, assisted by Luke Shaw, who had a good game – especially in the second half. United were well on their way to getting all three points from this game, which seemed to be mission impossible at half time. Before the goal, Giuseppe Pezzella replaced Koopmeiners for the away side and towards the end of the half, Nemanja Matic replaced Fred, who had suffered an injury in the match. United just needed to keep this lead.
It was an exciting win for United, who ended up deserving of the three points. Atalanta will be going back home wondering what happened as the comeback seemed to happen so quickly. United needed to keep this momentum they have created and the never give up attitude that should have been reinforced from the victory. The clash with Liverpool in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Sunday is something to keep an eye on as a big result will be needed for United and they will be expected to turn up. Solskjaer has something to think about ahead of the match and his starting XP, formation and tactics will need to be spot on.
Goals: Marcus Rashford 53′, Harry Maguire 75′, Cristiano Ronaldo 81′; Mario Pašalić 15′, Merit Demiral 29′
Assists: Bruno Fernandes 53′, 75′, Luke Shaw 81′; Davide Zappacosta 15′, Teun Koopmeiners 29′
Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Fred (Matic 88′), McTominay (Pogba 66′); Greenwood (Sancho 73′), Fernandes, Rashford (Cavani 66′); Ronaldo
Substitutes Not Used: Henderson; Bailly, Dalot, Telles; Mata, Lingard, Van de Beek; Elanga
Bookings: Luke Shaw 64′, Nemanja Matic 90+3′, Edinson Cavani 90+4′; Matteo Lovato 55′, Mario Pašalić 57′, Marten De Roon 57′, Jose Luis Palomino 80′
Written by John Walker