Manchester United produced a memorable performance to come back from 2-0 down to beat Atalanta 3-2. Many thought this was a deciding match that could send Ole Gunner out of the old Trafford given the disappointing spell even after having world class players on his team.
In this article, we highlight 5 talking points from this march that proved Manchester United’s might.
United Give up goals too easily
A promising start for Manchester United was undone after 15 minutes when Atalanta scored the opener. United’s defensive woes once again surfaced, making it seven consecutive Champions League games without keeping a clean sheet.
For a team which is currently struggled to break teams down, a weak defence is a killer. It is nine games in a row with no clean sheet in all competitions. Somewhat predictably, Atalanta’s goal came from a move down Luke Shaw’s left side. The England star has regressed this season and needs to improve.
Shaw was also beaten for the header for Atalanta’s second goal. It was a basic set piece to defend and the Italian side made scoring from it look like a training exercise. In seven Champions League games at Old Trafford under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, United have given up the first goal five times.
Fantastic spirit from United
The first half was not an enjoyable watch and the pressure was getting to the players. The players looked anxious and frustrated and it was clear to see that they were getting annoyed with each other.
So that makes the second half comeback even more impressive. When the whistle blew after half-time, United set the tone right away, chasing the ball down and stunning Atalanta with the intensity of the team’s play. The spirit pushed United on to draw level with 15 minutes to go thanks to goals from Marcus Rashford, and surprisingly, Harry Maguire.
While the pressure is on United, the players have not stopped playing for their manager yet. Ronaldo’s winner topped off a memorable comeback.
Rashford shakes off rustiness
Marcus Rashford looked bright when he came on against Leicester City, scoring on his comeback. He began this match well too, but it did not go as smoothly as he may have hoped.
Rashford scored United’s opener, from his sixth shot at goal. It was the only one which had landed on target. His goal came at the perfect time to try and spark a comeback, and it spared him right when it seemed like he would have to be substituted.
It was a worry to see him limp off after an hour, clutching his thigh. He could be a risk of missing the Liverpool game at the weekend.
You cannot keep Ronaldo down
Cristiano Ronaldo was not going to go three matches without scoring. Manchester United’s number 7 buried a header with the score poised at 2-2. You cannot keep Ronaldo down, he’s too good for that. He has now scored in three consecutive Champions League games since joining United.
The goal was a trademark header from a Luke Shaw cross. United need to utilise him like this more.
United still in control
2-0 down at half-time, United were sitting bottom of the group. The situation was a dire one. This result keeps United in control, even though there is plenty of work to do. Bizarrely, the turnaround sent United to the top of the group. That’s how tight it is.
Tough away games are upcoming against Atalanta and Villarreal. If United can get through those while avoiding defeat, then there will just be a home game against Young Boys left to play.
It’s still dicey, but a lot better than it all looked after 45 minutes.