Football Features

“Mr. Champions League is always ready to rescue them” – Man Utd come back from the brink in dramatic 2-2 draw against Atalanta

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 22:32, 2 November 2021

In another dramatic night of Champions League action, Man Utd twice came from behind to draw 2-2 with Atalanta.

It was the Ronaldo rescue act yet again for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the Red Devils needed their no. 7 to score twice to save them.

Here’s how the players rated at Stadio di Bergamo:

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Juan Musso – 7 – Made some big saves when he had to. Was left with no chance to stop Cristiano’s goals.

Marten de Roon – 8 – Struggled a bit playing in defence but moved back into midfield for the second-half where he man-marked Bruno Fernandes out of the rest of the game. Made a massive 7 interceptions as he helped Atalanta put the clamps on the Red Devils.

Merih Demiral – 8 – Rock solid at the back as he stopped United’s attacks.

José Palomino – 7 – Decent in defence and produced an outrageously beautiful assist for Atalanta’s second goal.

Davide Zappacosta – 6 – Offered quality width.

Teun Koopmeiners – 8 – Really impressive at the heart of midfield. Ran the show.

Remo Freuler – 7 – Moved the ball around neatly, especially in the final third.

Joakim Maehle – 6 – Got shut down by Wan-Bissaka.

Mario Pasalic – 5 – Wasn’t as influential as Atalanta would like in the first-half. Subbed at half-time so Gasperini could tactically re-shape.

Josip Ilicic – 7 – Neat enough strike to open the scoring, albeit he benefitted from some atrocious goalkeeping.

Duvan Zapata – 8 – Worked United relentlessly all night. Created Atalanta’s opener and got his reward when he was put through in the second-half and drove his side into the lead with a smart high finish.


Berat Djimsiti (for Pasalic 46′) – 7 – Came on to play in the back three and was immense in that role.

Luis Muriel (for Ilicic 71′) – 6 – Caused so many problems with his movement but couldn’t use the ball right.

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Manchester United

David de Gea – 4 – Shocking mistake to allow Ilicic to open the scoring, let the ball run underneath him like a rookie. And then he was so weak and impotent, offering no resistence to Zapata as he returned the lead to Atalanta.

Eric Bailly – 8 – Manchester United’s best player on the pitch by a million miles. Even as his ball-watching allowed Atalanta to score their game-winner, he nevertheless prevented countless other goals with incredible last ditch interventions.

Raphael Varane – 6 – Was playing well until he had to leave the field with an injury late in the first-half.

Harry Maguire – 4 – Looked shaky once Varane left the field. Really struggled for the second Atalanta goal.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka – 7 – A phenomenal defensive display but as per usual, preventing Maehle from impacting the game with 5/6 tackles. However he wasn’t too effective with the ball.

Scott McTominay – 7 – Worked really hard. Put himself about.

Paul Pogba – 4 – Just atrocious from the start until he was mercifully subbed off. Nothing he tried came off and he was so sloppy in possession it was unreal. This was not the display of a World Cup winner.

Luke Shaw – 6 – Aggressive and on the front foot from the start but didn’t use the ball well.

Bruno Fernandes – 7 – Constantly drove United forward, and pulled off a simply magical backheel to create the United equaliser. The instinct and understanding to pull that out and completely unbalance the defence was almost beyond belief. It was such a stupendous moment that Gian Piero Gasperini altered his entire gameplan to shut Fernandes down in the second-half and, for the most part, it worked.

Marcus Rashford – 5 – Looked lost in the middle of this system. Was he meant to blow the top off the defence? Or link play? It wasn’t clear and neither was he. Defended well but offered nothing in attack. Subbed off.

Cristiano Ronaldo – 8 – Was on the periphery of the game but still showed up twice to drag his side back from the brink with two unreal stoppage time goals. His first was a stupendous finish in first-half injury time and his second was a barely believable volley from the edge of the box, with picture-perfect technique he lashed the ball home in the 92nd minute to equalise for United. No matter how poorly United play, Mr. Champions League is always ready to rescue the Red Devils.


Mason Greenwood (for Varane 38′) – 7 – Great pass in the build-up to the first equaliser and a beautifully deft assist for the second equaliser. Looked really sharp even though he was forced into a wide role.

Edinson Cavani (for Rashford 69′) – 6 – Worked hard.

Nemanja Matic (for Pogba 69′) – 6 – Stemmed the tide of Atalanta attacks in the middle of the pitch.

Jadon Sancho (for McTominaty 87′) – n/a – Came on late.

Donny van de Beek (for Fernandes 87′) – 6 – Came on late but played a smart, early pass that panicked the Atalanta defence and led to United’s dramatic late equaliser.


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