Ratings: Ronaldo to the rescue after United made a tough job tougher in Bergamo; Varane injured…


Manchester United drew 2-2 with Atalanta in the fourth UEFA Champions League group stage match. Josip Iličić opened the scoring in the 12th minute of the match before Cristiano Ronaldo struck in added time at the end of the first half to level the match. Just eleven minutes into the second half, Duván Zapata doubled the home sides lead with United looking poor in the night – especially after losing Raphael Varane to injury once again. Ronaldo struck again in added time at the end of the second half to rescue a draw for United. This would then lead to pundits and the media stating that United should not be relying on Ronaldo.

After a mixed start, United started to find out how much Atalanta wanted the win in this match with their pressing but United’s back three seemed to avert the danger early on. However, in the 12th minute of the match, Josip Iličić broke the deadlock, assisted by Duván Zapata. United would have to come from behind again. Solskjaer’s side was lucky the damage was not doubled with the home side seeking to punish United, as they did a fortnight ago in the first meeting between the two sides. In the 31st minute, a penalty was called for after Eric Bailly blocked a shot but VAR gave nothing – and rightly so.

United suffered a setback in the 38th minute after Raphael Varane had to come off injured and Solskjaer brought Mason Greenwood on, reverting United to a defensive four with Marcus Rashford on the left flank, Greenwood on the right and Cristiano Ronaldo as the main striker. In the first minute of added time, Bruno Fernandes and Ronaldo were on the attack through the middle with the former passing back for the latter to equalise, scoring his eighth goal in the eleven matches he has played since returning to the Old Trafford club. In the second half, United needed to be quicker with their passing, also cutting out their mistakes.

United conceded again 11 minutes into the second half with Zapata scoring and José Luis Palomino assisting. VAR was involved in the decision though, which seemed to take an age. The goal was given. United seemed to have reverted to the poor team they had been in September and October, and looked like passengers on conceding a second goal. Solskjaer made a double substitution with Nemanja Matic and Edinson Cavani replacing Paul Pogba and Rashford. Atalanta seemed to be up for this match, having lost late in the game two weeks ago. United just seemed to be unable to find the equaliser at this time.

United still found themselves trying to get back from behind with Atalanta still pushing to secure the win. Solskjaer made another double substitution in the 87th minute of the match with Donny van de Beek and Scott McTominay. United started to find their feet after the second double substitution as Ronaldo found his ninth goal for United in 11 matches, equalising the score, assisted by Greenwood. It was by no means a vintage performance for United, but the score was no level and United’s fortunes in the Champions League have changed with that goal, sending United back to the top of the group.

Five minutes were played at the end of the second half, and United did not have the time to seek a winner in this match. The draw would have to do – it was better than a defeat. Would the negative so-called United supporters accept that though? But who cares about them. Win, lose or draw – United is the team for me. Ronaldo has scored five goals in the Champions League this season, which is a great result for the 36-year-old who was written off after that proposed move to Manchester City came to a halt after United got themselves involved. What a return to the Theatre of Dreams for the Portuguese legend.

United need to get themselves in order ahead of the Manchester City match this weekend. There is a chance that Varane may not make it for the weekend after the injury he sustained in the first half of the match. Victor Lindelof suffered an injury in training on Monday, so he will remain a doubt so it could well be that either Teden Mengi is brought into the first team or Phil Jones is able to make his Premier League return this weekend. Either way, the pressure will be on ahead of Saturday’s derby at the Theatre of Dreams and with City coming back from a 2-0 defeat to Crysta Palace, they will be looking to beat United once again at Old Trafford.

United face Manchester City in the first Manchester derby of the Premier League season at Old Trafford on Saturday, which is another big match for Solskjaer’s side. The pressure will be immense going into the match and the media will be trying to find the weaknesses in the team ahead of the match, writing United off until the match is over. It is a shame is has to be like this as United are the team that everyone wants to read about, whether they are winning, drawing or losing. The international break cannot come quick enough, which will buy some time for some of the squad to rest, recover and find a way back to business.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

Made his first mistake of the season after seemingly misjudging Ilicic's effort on goal. It just slipped under him for the first goal. Zapata's goal was a good one, but perhaps De Gea could have come off the line to give him a better chance of making the save?


3 Eric Bailly

Despite not playing for the club in a long time, he seemed to bail out the defence at times, which was good to see. When Varane came off, Maguire seemed to be well exposed. Bailly should start against City on Saturday.


19 Raphael Varane

Started well for United and it is great to see him back but in the 38th minute of the match, he looked injured, sat on the pitch then walked off the pitch as he could not continue. He was replaced by Greenwood in the 38th minute.


5 Harry Maguire

Slow and off the pace. Didn't seem to be present for Ilicic's goal and wanted the linesman to bail him out. For Zapata's goal, he looked like a Sunday League defender who was still drunk from the night before. Needs dropping to teach him a lesson.


29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Regressed from the weekend. Seemed unable to deal with Zapata and needs to be more clinical in defence. This three at the back formation does not suit him against a team willing to fight for a win. He was good against Spurs as they were terrible.


39 Scott McTominay

It was a shame that he hit the post in the fourth minute - although it was a deflected effort - but a goal is a goal. Booked in the second half and was replaced by Sancho in the 87th minute of the match.


6 Paul Pogba

Did not seem like he wanted to be there tonight. Still suspended for two more Premier League matches. Pogba owed it to United to put in a world class performance, but he only has a handful of those at United - most a distant memory. Replaced by Matic in the 69th minute.


23 Luke Shaw

I'm not sure he provided enough width as Ilicic seemed to deal with him well when he made himself available for Zapata's goal. Not sure the form he is in is worth the risk agains City. Needs improvement. The form he was in last season is no longer present at this time.


18 Bruno Fernandes

Did what he could against Atalanta. Got an assist for Ronaldo's equaliser, after a good run into the box ad a pass back to his compatriot. He was marked by De Roon in the second have and ended up being replaced by Van de Beek in the 87th minute.


10 Marcus Rashford

Seemed quiet in the first half playing alongside Ronaldo. Dropped off in the second half - which is understandable after his injury layoff. Replaced by Cavani in the 69th minute.


7 Cristiano Ronaldo

Scored twice for United, both in added time - one at the end of the first half, the other at the end of the second half. Both equalisers. Saved United's skin in the Champions League. He lacked a lot of service. Perhaps Van de Beek should have started instead of Pogba?



11 Mason Greenwood

Replaced Varane 38'. Played in a great pass to Ronaldo to level the game in added time in the second half. Hit the crossbar too, but was offside. Should start on Saturday.


31 Nemanja Matic

Replaced Pogba 69'. Made little impact in the match, but United seemed to have improved slightly after Pogba came off.


21 Edinson Cavani

Replaced Rashford 69'. The Uruguayan should have started but I understand why Solskjaer rested him as he will be needed at the top of his game on Saturday.


34 Donny van de Beek

Replaced Fernandes 87'. Should have started. Has great quality. Denied a goal by the keeper and seemed like he wanted to perform - perhaps to put himself in the shop window for January. It's a shame that he's treated to a few minutes here and there at United. He could have been a great signing, given the time.


25 Jadon Sancho

Replaced McTominay 87'. Needs to be given more minutes. He won't shine if he's left on the bench and given cameo appearances.


Goals: Josip Iličić 12′, Duván Zapata 56′; Cristiano Ronaldo 45+1′, 90+1′

Assists: Duván Zapata 12′, José Luis Palomino 56′; Bruno Fernandes 45+1′, Mason Greenwood 90+1′

Manchester United: De Gea; Bailly, Varane (Greenwood 38′), Maguire; Wan-Bissaka, McTominay (Sancho 87′), Pogba (Matic 69′), Shaw; Fernandes (Van de Beek 87′); Rashford (Cavani 69′), Ronaldo

Substitutes Not Used: Henderson; Dalot, Telles; Mata, Lingard, Fred; Martial

Bookings: Scott McTominay 51′

Written by John Walker

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