Ronaldo v Atalanta

Maguire hails Man United ‘togetherness’ after dramatic comeback win over Atalanta

Cristiano Ronaldo proved to be the Champions League hero once again as Manchester United produced a thrilling second-half comeback to clinch a 3-2 win over Atalanta at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.

The hosts would have been hoping for a fast start having been so poor in the 4-2 defeat to Leicester City at the weekend, yet found themselves a goal down inside just 15 minutes as Mario Pasalic tapped home, after a simple pullback from former Chelsea man Davide Zappacosta.

United had shown glimpses in the final third, yet simply couldn’t find a way through their well-organised opponents, before the Serie A side piled on even more misery as on-loan Juventus defender Merih Demiral rose highest to head in at a corner.

With the game approaching half-time, the Red Devils then squandered two guilt-edged chances to get back into the game, first through Fred – who had earlier seen an effort well saved by Juan Musso – with the Brazilian somehow curling wide, before Marcus Rashford lashed an effort onto the crossbar from the angle.

The home side came flying out the traps after the break and almost pulled a goal back through Cristiano Ronaldo, yet he could only fire his effort straight at the goalkeeper, before Rashford did eventually make the breakthrough with a composed sliding finish after Bruno Fernandes’ delightful flick in behind.

Scott McTominay then struck the post as United chased an equaliser, while at the other end Solskjaer’s men had to rely on David De Gea to once again bail them out of trouble, with the Spaniard making two fine saves to deny Duvan Zapata and fellow substitute Ruslan Malinovskyi.

Those interventions proved crucial as the hosts did draw level moments later through Harry Maguire, with the England international atoning for his shoddy showing against his former side at the weekend with a super, drilled finish into the bottom corner.

With less than ten to play, the comeback was complete as Ronaldo once again proved the Champions League matchwinner at Old Trafford, the Portuguese sensation sparking jubilant scenes among the home crowd with an expertly taken header following Luke Shaw’s excellent whipped cross.

Having hung on to clinch that pivotal group stage victory, the doom and gloom has somewhat been lifted after a difficult few weeks, albeit with skipper Maguire critical of the way his side fell behind, despite the eventual ‘tremendous’ victory.

”The first half we conceded two bad goals. Two big moments in the game,” Maguire told BT Sport.

”For the first they caught us out and then the second it is a set-play that we shouldn’t be conceding. We created a lot of chances in the first half so we knew at half-time that the next goal would be crucial. We got the goals we needed and deserved and I think we deserved the win in the end. Yes, we made it difficult but it is a tremendous victory in the end.

The England international was also full of praise for matchwinner Ronaldo, as the 36-year-old once again grabbed the headlines after previously netting a stoppage-time clincher against Villarreal on matchday two.

“I had eyes on it all the way [Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal]. I was right behind him. His leap, his timing, it was perfect right in the corner. We see it day in, day out in training and in the goals he has scored throughout his career. He has come up with a massive goal for us again in the Champions League.

Having been heavily criticised for his display at the weekend, Maguire somewhat redeemed himself by netting a fine equaliser for his first ever goal in the competition.

“It is normally with my head [that he scores]. I have not managed to put one away. It is my first goal for the season and the Champions league. A proud moment with my family here.

“We were two goals down and we need to sharpen up with that. But we had plenty of chances. I think Marcus [Rashford] had two one-on-ones in the first-half. We are working hard to be more solid but it is about winning and the last three or four games we have conceded too many set-pieces. It is fine margins but we need to do better. We showed great togetherness. We were clapped off at half-time by some of these fans and they gave us the belief we needed.”

Manchester United continue their tough run of fixtures with a crunch clash with Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday.

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