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Did Ronaldo save Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s job and 4 things we learned as Manchester United edge out Atalanta

Did Ronaldo save Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s job and 4 things we learned as Manchester United edge out Atalanta

Another memorable night at Old Trafford



Manchester United staged another incredible Champions League comeback to turn a 2-0 deficit on its head and emerge 3-2 winners at Old Trafford. Not to be outdone by rivals Liverpool, who emerged 3-2 winners last night, the Red Devils afforded Atalanta a 2-0 lead heading into half-time, as boos rang around the Theatre of Dreams.

In the second half, however, a different Manchester United emerged. Marcus Rashford provided the lifeline, firing the first beyond the Atalanta shot-stopper, before Harry Maguire thumped home the equaliser. The headlines, however, will go to Cristiano Ronaldo, who rose highest to nod in what proved to be the winner ten minutes from time, and relieved some of the pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Here are 4 things that 101 picked out from the game.

1. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still doesn’t know his best 11

Although the ultimate result was a positive one, it was a very different Manchester United in the first half. Solskjaer once again made changes, with Paul Pogba and Jadon Sancho dropping to the bench in favour of Scott McTominay and Marcus Rashford.

With so much talent at his disposal, it is easy to sympathise with the United boss, but it seems clear that the Norwegian still has no idea of quite who fits into his strongest lineup. With a tough set of fixtures coming up, he will have to find out soon, or risk learning the hard way.

2. Manchester United have the same glaring issue from last season

While Manchester United strengthened in key positions in the summer by bringing in Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane, to fill gaps at right-midfield and centre-back respectively, the same glaring problem area still exists.

The position in question? Central midfield. Solskjaer reverted to his famed “McFred” pairing on Wednesday, but while hard-working, the pair were woefully exposed in the first half, which saw Atalanta net twice. It is clear that while such woes were in part due to tactical choices (Solskjaer employing 4 attackers), the midfield pair are simply not good enough to allow their boss to field such an attack-minded side regularly and with confidence.

Had they made one more statement signing in the centre of the park this summer, we could be talking about the Reds as title challengers. For now, though, it looks as though they will fall short again.

3. Sir Alex Ferguson passed down the hairdryer to Ole

United have made a habit of staging comebacks after falling behind, and this was certainly one of their more impressive ones. Despite Sir Alex Ferguson leaving the club in 2013, there were shades of his hairdryer treatment based on the way in which Solskjaer’s side emerged for the second half, as has proven the case for much of his reign.

Perhaps it is the characters in the dressing room, or a side of Ole that fans do not see, but it certainly seems as though the myth of the hairdryer has been passed down to the Norwegian, something that the United faithful were incredibly grateful for this evening.

4. Cristiano Ronaldo always find a way

It would not be a Manchester United result this season without Cristiano Ronaldo finding a way to steal the headlines. After netting a last gasp winner against Villarreal in matchday 2, which prevented his side from ending that night bottom of their group, the Portuguese star repeated the trick once more, and will surely continue to do so.

Desperately searching for a winner, Luke Shaw’s cross found the returning hero’s head, as Ronaldo powered a header into the back of the net ten minutes from time, and ultimately allowed the Red Devils to walk away with all three points.

For all the talk of their shortcomings (which, alluded to above, are clear), when Cristiano Ronaldo is in your side, there is always a chance of pulling a rabbit out of the hat, and this is something that he continues to do.

Did he save Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s job?

Manchester United head to Bergamo to take on Atalanta again in two weeks’ time, knowing that a win would make them heavy favourites to qualify. Before that, they play host to Liverpool and travel to Tottenham in the Premier League.

Read more:

Woes mount for Manchester United as star winger limps off against Atalanta

Manchester United booed off as #Sack Ole trends at half-time in Atalanta clash

This article was edited by Conor Laird.

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