manchester united vs atalanta

MATCH REPORT: MANCHESTER UNITED 3-2 ATALANTA, SPIRITED SECOND HALF COMEBACK BLOWS ITALIANS AWAY AS RED DEVILS ROAR AT HOME

welcomed to Old Trafford as both teams looked to establish their qualifying credentials. The away side were without multiple key names while the Red Devils had Paul Pogba and Jadon Sancho on the bench.

Both teams started in an adventurous manner, pushing forward at every opportunity. Rashford wasted a great chance to open the scoring one-on-one but was adjudged offside while Ilicic’s shot was blocked by Wan-Bissaka inside the box. And it was La Dea who took the lead. A quick attack down the right saw Ilicic find the onrushing Zappacosta whose cross was swept home by Pasalic.

 

United tried to respond immediately with Ronaldo standing the ball up for Fred whose shot was palmed over by Musso. But it was Atalanta who scored again just before the halfhour mark. Koopmeiners‘ corner was headed into the net by Demiral, who outjumped Shaw to put United into real trouble. The home side were struggling to string together meaningful passing sequences in attack as halftime loomed.

 

Atalanta were defending well as United looked to get back into the game. Demiral’s last ditch tackle on Rashford denied the English attacker a clean shot at goal. Next, it was Fred’s turn to race into the box before shooting wide. Rashford had a chance to pull one back in the added time but his strike just skimmed the top of the crossbar as the halftime whistle went.

 

Ronaldo had the first shot on target of the second half within three minutes but was denied by Musso as United searched for a quick goal. They eventually managed to get themselves back into the game as Ilicic’s misplaced pass was poked through by Fernandes for Rashford. The latter kept his cool and slotted it past Musso for his second goal in as many games. Atalanta were hanging on for dear life now as United attacked far more cohesively.

 

McTominay hit the post after neat work by Greenwood down the right before Ronaldo’s grounded shot required a strong hand from Musso to keep out. Both sides made a host of changes in order to serve their respective needs as the game entered the final 20 minutes. Zapata’s shot was saved by the legs of De Gea before immediately getting up to push away Malinovsky’s effort.

 

The equaliser finally came with Atalanta clearing a corner only as far as Fernandes. His cross evaded everyone, eventually making its way to Maguire who swept home a splendid finish. And the go-ahead goal eventually arrived from Ronaldo himself. Shaw’s cross from the left saw the striker rise above Palomino and head home what could be the winning goal.

 

There were no more clear cut chances for either side, though Atalanta did try their best for a bit to look for a late leveler. United move top of the table with six points as Atalanta remain second, just above Villarreal.

Here are the three key takeaways from the match:

UNITED ULTIMATELY GET THEIR WIN

It was a dismal start from Solskjaer’s side who were far too casual in how they conceded both the goals. Lindelof was turned easily by Pasalic for the opener before poor marking from yet another set piece led to the second. However, their attacking prowess was never in doubt as Rashford rattled the bar just before the break. After it, the team was a completely different beast.

 

They were on the front foot right from the off, going close more than once before Rashford finally got one back albeit from a mistake by the away side. That provided further impetus as goals from Maguire and Ronaldo followed which sealed the game’s result in their favour after a tough loss at the weekend.

 

BRAVE ATALANTA GET SO CLOSE

Gasperini’s team were without five key players, with De Roon having to play centre back. Nevertheless, they surged into a two goal lead and more than held their own at the back through some heroic defending over the first half. However, Demiral’s departure through a hamstring issue severely disbalanced the side and with United starting the second half in a ferocious manner, the high pressing and intensity of closing down when they did not have the possession was gone.

 

The defence survived for a while through some good saves from Musso and poor finishing but Rashford’s goal made it certain that the night got harder. Maguire’s goal also had a bit of fortune about it but Ronaldo’s header was no fluke. They can be proud of their performance as they will though they had to leave empty handed.

 

GOOD TEST BEFORE LIVERPOOL

Solskjaer has had a tough few weeks with results not going his team’s way, highlighted by the loss against Leicester City. This hard fought win would feel extra sweet for the Norwegian who can breathe a bit easier on the job now. Next up is Jurgen Klopp’s all-conquering Reds and United know they have to be at their best if they are to take something from that game. De Gea is in fine form but the lack of cleansheets is a worry which needs to be sorted out soon.

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