Cristiano Ronaldo scored in first and second-half stoppage time as Manchester United snatched a dramatic draw against Atalanta in their UEFA Champions League tie. Josip Ilicic and Duvan Zapata gave the Italian outfit the lead twice before Ronaldo’s strikes pegged them back.
Despite making a bright start to the game, Manchester United spent most of the first half on the back foot. Atalanta took the lead through Ilicic in the 12th minute and looked extremely likely to extend their lead. However, Ronaldo finished off a well-worked United move just before the whistle to drag his side back on level terms.
The second half played out almost exactly like the first, with Atalanta re-taking their lead in the 56th minute through Zapata. The Italians remained in the ascendancy throughout but conceded their second stoppage-time equaliser of the game as Ronaldo struck in the 91st minute.
The draw sees Manchester United retain a narrow lead atop the Group F standings, with Atalanta in third place.
On that note, here are the five major talking points from a highly entertaining affair.
#1 Cristiano Ronaldo does it in the UEFA Champions League yet again
Cristiano Ronaldo has been invaluable for Manchester United in the Champions League this season, and he showed his worth yet again on Tuesday. His late equaliser was his fifth goal in four games in Europe for the Red Devils, most of them being extremely important strikes as well.
Despite his side not creating much, Ronaldo showed his killer instinct by finishing off the two chances that came his way. The Champions League’s highest scorer (139) and record appearance maker (180) just continues to grab the headlines and shows no signs of stopping any time soon.
#2 Atalanta shrug off injury issues to deliver an impressive performance against Manchester United
Atalanta’s brand of attractive attacking football has brought them considerable success and won them a lot of fans on the European stage. Having given Manchester United a taste of their style of play in the reverse fixture, they served a reminder in this game as well.
What makes Atalanta’s forward-thinking play in this Champions League campaign more special, however, is how depleted their squad has been through injury. Regular wing-backs Hans Hateboer and Robin Gosens, defensive leader Rafael Toloi, and forward Matteo Pessina have all been notable absentees.
As such, it is a credit to Atalanta’s style of play that they have produced extremely impressive performances in Europe this season. Had they been able to field a full-strength squad, results might well have been quite different.