Ratings: Rashford, Maguire and Ronaldo score to win the match for United after poor first half against Atalanta


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.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

One clean sheet in 20 matches is not great for United. 2-0 down in the second half was something that needed a reaction. Made some great saves to keep United in the game with the score at 2-1. Didn't make an error and could not have stopped the two Atalanta goals.


29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Consistent to a point but never really had a say at either end in the first half. Seemed to step uo in the second half though as United seemed determined to score and go on to win the game.


2 Victor Lindelof

Seemed to be beaten easily by Zapata. I'm not too sure he is going to play much when Varane is fit. When Maguire is not performing, Lindelof struggles too. That is not a good sign.


5 Harry Maguire

Seemed at fault for both Atalanta goals in the first half. Seemed to know it too. Got the equaliser for United, and his first in the Champions League. Stood up and was counted in the second half. Not a great performance overall but a win is a win.


23 Luke Shaw

Caught out by Demiral and seem uninspiring on the ball at times. A different Shaw appeared in the second half. Which could be said for all the players that emerged from the dressing room. Got the assist for Ronaldo's winner.


17 Fred

Seemed to be the avenue of a goal in the first half, after his shot was saved. Missed an even better chance later on. Brought a lot of energy but that was it as his passing was bad. Replaced by Matic in the 88th minute.


39 Scott McTominay

Could have scored, but hit the post. Played as well as could be expected, despite the overall poor first half. Replaced by Pogba in the 66th minute.


11 Mason Greenwood

Pressed well for United in the opening stages but as United conceded twice. Seemed to tire and perhaps should have been replaced earlier. Was replaced by Sancho in the 73rd minute.


18 Bruno Fernandes

He was bad in the first half, but that was the same for all the players on the pitch. Got two assists in the second half and seemed to regress, possibly through fatigue, but United got the win they needed and deserved after that second half performance.


10 Marcus Rashford

Seemed to be the spark in this team in the first half but could not get the goal he sought to score in the first half. He got United back in the game eight minutes into the second half but was replaced by Cavani in the 66th minute after suffering an injury.


7 Cristiano Ronaldo

He was lively in the first half and seemed to be annoyed that United fell behind, then conceded again. The annoyance was written all over his face. Goals were there for the taking but it was not happening for United. Then came the 81st minute, that rise into the air and boom, into the back of the net for the winner.



6 Paul Pogba

Replaced McTominay 66'. His introduction gave the crowd and United a lift. A bit of inspiration went a long way.


21 Edinson Cavani

Replaced Rashford 66'. Seemed relentless and covered a lot of ground as United stood up to be counted.


25 Jadon Sancho

Replaced Greenwood 73'. Composed and helped to press the Atalanta defence. No goals or assists but he is starting to adapt to United.


31 Nemanja Matic

Replaced Fred 88'. Came on at the death and helped to maintain possession and protect the defence.


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

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