Cristiano Ronaldo capped a sensational Man Utd comeback as the hosts fought back from a 2-0 half-time deficit to see off Atalanta on another memorable Champions League night
Manchester United produced another memorable comeback at Old Trafford as they came from 2-0 down to see off Atalanta.
The hosts found themselves trailing by two goals at half-time on their own patch for the first-time in the Champions League after a lacklustre opening 45.
Former Chelsea man Mario Pasalic opened the scoring early on before Merih Demiral doubled their lead as he headed home from a corner.
United by no means failed to test the Atalanta goal, but continued to fluff their lines.
Questions continue to be asked of this United side but they started impressively in the second-half, cutting the deficit thanks to Marcus Rashford’s strike.
The woodwork was struck and opportunities missed before Harry Maguire slotted home at the back post to level proceedings.
It seemed inevitable that United would write their own script and, of course, it would be Ronaldo to, once more, make the headlines on a European night as he headed in the crucial third goal.
Here are five talking points from Old Trafford.
1 Covering the cracks
Make no mistake, this is anything but a turning point, but it is a sign of immense character.
So often when Solskjaer’s needed a result he has been able to find one and this was again a case of that.
The manner in which United fell behind left a lot to be desired and exposed their flaws – in attack, in defence and as a team.
But momentum is a funny thing in sport and when the hosts got on top it was a different game with the Atalanta goal facing an onslaught.
Tactically there is plenty to work on, but, as has been mentioned, this United side play in moments and they certainly had plenty of those in the second-half as they turned the game on its head.
2 A captain’s goal
He’s had his critics and he certainly won’t have been impressed with the second goal his side conceded.
But Maguire slotted home United’s equaliser with the poise of a seasoned striker and roared on the Old Trafford crowd.
United have been accused of lacking leaders during their recent run of results, but their senior men certainly stood up on Wednesday night.
Maguire more than most. The man wearing the captain’s armband produced the equaliser just as the Italians were looking to reassert themselves in the contest.
The centre-half was without his new partner Raphael Varane, but he was able to cope alongside Victor Lindelof.
3 A game of two halves
It is so cliche, but for a reason. It is hard to fathom that the United side who went in 2-0 down at the break were the same team who came out.
The Italians, without getting out of third gear, were able to build a comfortable lead at Old Trafford. Soaking up pressure before hitting on the break and seizing on set pieces.
It was looking bleak and the home side needed to respond.
Well respond they did and once they got on top they looked set to produce, yet another, historic turnaround.
An early Rashford goal was followed by a relentless spell of attacking play that had Atalanta holding on before Maguire and Ronaldo came up with the goods.
Which United is the real one? Well that’s anyone’s guess, we’ve been trying to figure that out for several years.
4 Rashford back with a bang
They might be packed with attacking talent, but one of United’s own is still one of their brightest stars.
Rashford was forced to watch on in the opening months of the season as he recovered from surgery.
He returned at Leicester, appearing from the bench to fire home, and looked particularly sharp against Atalanta at Old Trafford.
His lack of match sharpness was evident as he missed several chances that, in top form, he may well have converted.
However his clinical edge was very much still with him and he slotted home the crucial goal that gave United much needed hope.
Rashford was taken off just after the hour holding his thigh, which is manager will hope is nothing too serious.
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5 Surplus at the Blues
Europe is littered with players Chelsea signed or produced before either loaning out consistently or eventually selling.
Some of those names are well known, others aren’t.
Well Pasalic falls into the latter category, but is more than paying back Atalanta’s £12m investment.
The Croatian was on the books at Stamford Bridge from 2014 until 2020, when the Italian side made his loan move permanent.
This term Pasalic has been integral, playing more games than anyone in Bergamo.
Chelsea have no problem letting players go, watching them develop at other clubs, before signing them back for big fees. Might we be looking at the next example of their unique transfer policy.