For a great occasion you always need a great player and Cristiano Ronaldo once again proved why he has been tagged Mr. Champions League after his late header completed the comeback for Manchester United from two goals down to defeat Atalanta 3-2 at Old Trafford.


The visitors raced into an early lead in the game with two first half goals from Mario Pasalic and Merih Demiral. Marcus Rashford pulled one back before Harry Maguire leveled terms. It was Ronaldo who popped up in the final ten minutes to win it for the home side.

This is the second time in the group stage of this season's competition that Ronaldo has proven the difference for the Reds as he also did in their victory against Villarreal.

The home team started the brighter side and got a glimpse of Atalanta's goal in the 3rd minute, when Scot McTominay played Marcus Rashford through on goal. Juan Musso rushed out to tighten the angle for the English man, who placed his effort wide. The goal wouldn't have stood as he was offside when he received the ball.

Despite the home side playing the better football, it was their visitors who got ahead against the run of play on the quarter of an hour. A quick free kick taken allowed Luis Muriel release Davide Zappacosta, whose low cross into the box was met with a deft touch by Pasalic to give the visitors the lead.

A chance to equalise presented itself to the home side in the 20th minute. Ronaldo made it to the byline to send in a cross that goes beyond Bruno Fernandes and straight at Fred at the far post, who brought it down and got a shot away that was tipped over the bar by Musso.

Atalanta cruised into the lead just before the half hour mark when a corner from the right was met by Merih Demiral, who got in front of Harry Maguire to flick home into the bottom corner.

United wasted two telling chances at the dearth of the first half when Fred fluffed his effort from the edge of the box and Marcus Rashford fired over the bar with only the keeper to beat.

Few minutes after smothering a rebound from an initial Ronaldo effort early in the second half, Rashford redeemed himself, pulling one back for the home side.

In what was his first start this season after undergoing a surgery at the end of last season that saw him miss out of the Euro championship, Rashford was played through by Fernandes, who benefited from a sloppy pass by Zappacosta. The England forward runs behind the defence before curling his effort beyond the on-rushing Musso.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men were unlucky not to gone level just before the hour mark as Mason Greenwood does well to cut in and send a cross deep into the area that is met by a stretching McTominay, whose effort comes off the post. Ronaldo also gave Musso work to do moments later with a low strike that the keeper had to push away.

The hosts have David de Gea to thank for keeping their hopes alive in the game as the Spaniard made a sterling double save in the 71st minute, first keeping out Duvan Zapata's point blank shot, before scrambling to to keep out Malinovskyi's follow up effort.

United kept the pressure on and their visitors finally succumbed with 15 minutes left to play. A poor corner from United was kept alive by Jadon Sancho, who sends the ball back into the Atalanta box. Edison Cavani flicked on and it rolled to Maguire at the back post. The big centre back slotting into an almost empty net.


Not long afterwards, Musso had to be on his toes to keep out Fernandes, who had done brilliantly to beat two Atalanta defenders before letting one fly.

And when it mattered most, he rose to the occasion, Cristiano Ronaldo, as he handed Manchester United the win with less than nine minutes of the regular duration.

Fernandes' initial corner was poor, but Luke Shaw did enough to keeping it alive, before sending a pinpoint cross into the box, where Ronaldo was loitering and popped up in the middle of the crowded Atalanta box to head home onto the bottom left corner as the home team completed the comeback to claim all three points.

Concluding Thoughts

It was always thought that Atalanta would be a tricky test for Manchester United and it almost tuned out to be a banana skin for them, going two goals behind at half time.

A display of character was required and Ole's men showed up when it mattered. Even while trailing in the first, they created the better chances, but didn't take them.

One of the reasons you'd have a player like Cristiano Ronaldo in your team is for moments like this where just one show of brilliance is all that is required.

Gian Piero Gasperini would feel bad that his wards should have finished the game early on after going two goals up and perhaps, a better game management to have at least salvaged one point.