Champions League | Man Utd 3-2 Atalanta: CR7 breaks Dea hearts

by | Oct 20, 2021 21:59

Atalanta were 2-0 up at Old Trafford, but the injury crisis in defence got worse, as Manchester United completed a heart-breaking comeback to win 3-2 with Cristiano Ronaldo’s header.

Champions League liveblog: Man Utd vs. Atalanta and Zenit vs. Juventus

There were surprises from both coaches going into Old Trafford, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer dropped Paul Pogba, starting Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes with Fred in midfield. La Dea were group leaders going in, but missing Robin Gosens, Hans Hateboer, Matteo Pessina, Berat Djimsiti and Rafael Toloi, so Marten de Roon had to plug the gap in defence, with Josip Ilicic and Luis Muriel preferred to Duvan Zapata and Ruslan Malinovskyi.

Atalanta were playing more like the hosts in the early stages, while United focused on the long ball and counter-attacks. It paid off, as Davide Zappacosta rolled across from the right and Mario Pasalic managed to stay just behind the ball, so avoided the offside trap to tap in.

Juan Musso was alert to fingertip Fred’s strike over the bar after a Cristiano Ronaldo cross was flicked on to the back post.

However, Atalanta were more clinical and doubled their lead when Merih Demiral soared for a relatively free header on Teun Koopmeiner’s in-swinging corner.

Demiral also proved crucial at the other end with a sensational last-ditch tackle on Marcus Rashford, then Fred did manage to get into a great scoring position only to fire wide.

Rashford thought he had to score when clear on goal on the stroke of half-time, but clipped the top of the crossbar from a tight angle.

Demiral went off with a hamstring issue, so Matteo Lovato had to make his Champions League debut, leaving only one first choice defender in the side.

Ronaldo sprung the offside trap on a Bruno Fernandes through ball, but Musso made himself big to parry and Rashford turned the rebound wide.

Manchester United did get one back when Ilicic’s lazy pass was intercepted by Fernandes, who immediately with the outside of the boot sent Rashford clear for the angled drive into the far bottom corner.

Lovato brought down Ronaldo just outside the box, from which CR7 drilled the free kick wide, then Scott McTominay deflected Mason Greenwood’s low cross with his knee onto the upright from point-blank range.

The momentum was suddenly all with Manchester United, Musso at full stretch getting his fingertips to Ronaldo’s finish from close range, as it went through Lovato’s legs.

David De Gea needed a fantastic double save on substitute Duvan Zapata and the Ruslan Malinovskyi rocket of a follow-up. On the resulting corner, Jose Luis Palomino also had a shot deflected over.

The comeback was completed, as a corner was not cleared effectively, then Remo Freuler failed to cut out the Fernandes cross and it fell so kindly for Harry Maguire to sweep in at the back post.

Bruno Fernandes almost made it 3-2, forcing a great save from Musso after Lovato’s slip, but the goalkeeper could do little when Luke Shaw whipped in a cross from another corner for Cristiano Ronaldo’s towering header.

Manchester United 3-2 Atalanta

Pasalic 15 (A), Demiral 29 (A), Rashford 53 (M), Maguire 75 (M), Cristiano Ronaldo 81 (M)

Cristiano Ronaldo goal


  1. dangerboy

    Atalanta started only 1 Italian. Serves fhem right.

  2. Vincenzo

    Whyvarevitalian teams playing so few italian players

  3. Yepe

    That’s a typical Atalanta style, to shock everybody at the beginning and finally dissatisfy at the end…

  4. EL CID

    Typical Italian performance in CL and another loss. The difference between the English and Italian clubs is simple, the PL teams fight till the end and do not give up. Italian clubs sit on what they have forgetting the game is 90 minutes long.

  5. Mike

    Yup was not surprised one bit . Gasperini always does this . They should have kept attacking at 2-0 and not let Man U get control tempo. Always the same story with these teams it becoming so predictable now

  6. dangerboy

    I woke up today with the clear intention of supporting La Dea today.

    But i saw the team sheet and only Zappacosta was the only Italian in the First 11 and they had 2 Argies and 2 Dutch in there, I went for United. At least they had 5 English players.

    Sorry, I cannot support a team that is openly hostile to their own.

  7. House Party

    Atalanta kept going + were pouring forward until the final whistle! Due to injuries they had very little experience at the back + it cost them. They played Man U off the park at times though + came back even after the momentum had swung in Man U’s favour. But they had Pogba to bring on + the big players up front to get them out of jail. Atalanta certainly didn’t give up though. I’d rather them put in a performance like that, do Serie A proud + go down fighting rather than just hoping for a 0-0. They’re a club which punches far above their weight + when Zappacosta, Pessina, Toloi, Piccolo, Lovato + Pezzella are all available they’ve also got some good Italian players. Spinazzola, Bastoni, Mancini, Gollini, Caldara, Gagliardini, Cristante, Orsolini + Petagna have all recently played for Atalanta + the Italian national team. So they’ve more than contributed to the Italy set-up in recent times considering the relatively small stature of the club. They’ve loaned out promising young Italian’s like Ruggeri + Bellanova to gain more experience too. So it’s disappointing to lose from 2-0 up but they deserve plaudits for their adventurous style + youth set-up.

  8. serie a lover

    atalanta always collapsing in europe. not surprising one bit. this is why gasperini is only a good manager, not a top manager

  9. dangerboy

    Maybe I’m being too hard on them. Just saw some of the match.

    The Italy U21 player that came on for Atalanta, Lovato, really struggled. He looked out of his depth. Gave up a corner and then was forced to take down Ronaldo. Pezzella came in for Defensive reinforcements and Ronaldo was the one he beat for the winning goal.

    They missed Pessina, Toloi and especially Robin Gosens today.

  10. Roy

    Wish Atalanta didn’t have to sell some of their best players every season. Imagine if they still had Romero?! Anyway Congrats to United for big come back victory after eating two goals against Atalanta’s B TEAM!!

  11. FERBAN


    They’re not “openly hostile” to their “own”. lol

    Many teams have little or no players from their own country. That’s just modern football.

    And who are Italians they can afford that’ll be an improvement on the “openly welcomed” foreigners they have playing for them at the moment?

  12. dangerboy


    They should give Pisa a blank cheque for the 6’7″ Lorenzo Lucca who is the leading scorer in ‘B’ and plays for the U21 Team.

    Playing average foreigners who are a dime a dozen and journeymen. Worse yet plucking kids barely in their teens from Africa and South America and flooding them into their youth teams. If that isn’t openly hostile, then I don’t know what is.

  13. FERBAN

    @ Dangerboy

    Still not “hostile” lol. That’s jingoism.

    Atalanta didn’t need Lucca, they have enough forwards. And he never played for Italy U21s before the transfer market closed anyway, so they couldn’t have signed an Italian U21 international in the summer because he wasn’t one then lol.

    And if they had signed him, he’d have to wait for ages to play, because he’s not up to it yet. Serie B is no measure of great talent. Scamacca might be a good fit for them if Zapata leaves.

    But yes, there’s far too many hopeless foreigners arriving in Italy. After England, it has the most foreigners of all the top leagues. Problem is, they’re mostly of a lower level than England’s.

    The likes of Ramsey and Sanchez arriving on huge wages is another big issue. Millions down the drain on these overrated epl has-beens. If Serie A isn’t smarter, it’ll end up like a juiced up version of the Turkish league where the fans get all excited about a 35yo ex star arriving. And we see that a bit already.

    Selling their best youngsters is a major problem too, but you can’t blame players for wanting to leave a league where a CL or even a EL is very unlikely to be won.

    Italy needs to start creating skillful, passionate youngsters from the ground up, like other nations have done. That, in the long run, will serve the league’s teams and the national team.

  14. dangerboy


    Semantics. A scout doing his job wouls have found him.

    You will be surprised at the level of some players buried in the lower leagues. Buried there for any number of reasons. Fabio Grosso was in D and C as a 23 Year Old. 5 years later plays in a World Cup Final.

    Nobody is begrudging the great foreign players that have made this league excellent (Maradona, the Dutch at Milan, the Germans at Inter, Kaka, Seedorf, Zanetti, Batistuta, Rui Costa, Ronaldo, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, can go on and on. Obviously thoae made our league good to follow.

    But I will alwaya criticize when they go over to Guinea Bissau and dozens of other counties that have ZERO football acumen and history, and decide to mold a player out of him. What is that?

    It annoys me to hear all these players then say Italian football improved them. The 2000 French European Champions at our expense above all.

    Teams in Serie A that have their 2nd 11 full of foreigners? What’s the point?

    Also, you can’t tell me Italian boys enrollment in calcio has gone down. It hasn’t. But you go from 6-11 Italians per team, per match, down to 1-4 per team per match, then the numbers don’t add up. Look at how many Italians were on the European Champions Juventus team on 1996. 9 in the Starting Lineup of the Final, if memory serves.

    And you’re wrong. Other leagues still play their own players. Brazil, Argentina, Portugal, The Low countries by large.

    I am actually shocked Italy can still field 11 players at International level.

  15. dangerboy

    Ferban, again.

    Also, this is not xenophobic (not that you accused me of it).

    In Spain, Atheltic are one of the most successful teams in Spanish football and it’s their Policy to use only Basque players.

    In Mexico, Chivas. Never been relegated and they have only always used Mexican players, many of whom rise from their own Academy.

    Nobody has an issue with them doing it.

    The Italy team was at its strongest from 1978 to about 1994. Coincided with a league full of Italian players with only the very best foreign players.

    Now? You have the likes of Venezia, who are American owned, and they proposely go out of their way to buy American players.

    Also, about Serie B. Watched a bit of a recent match involving Ternana. Serie B is a higher level than MLS from the USA. Yet MLS and American players are preferred?

    If this isn’t openly hostile, then I don’t know what is.

  16. FERBAN

    @ Dangerboy

    Yes, fair enough, all good points 👍 I still don’t think it’s openly hostile, though, rather just a sign of the modern methods. There’s also a laziness to it, especially when signing epl has-beens on huge wages, just because they are a “name” that’ll bring a bit of media attention to the club. That route is a slippery one, because as I said, we could end up like the Turkish league with fans going balistic at the airport over some long over-the-hill player.
    Your Juve ’96 example is a bit harsh, though, as the 3 foreigner rule had just ended and most clubs back then had homegrown players still.
    Yes, it’s unusual to see Italy winning the EC given the lack of players to pick from. But their first 20 players or so are as strong as any nation ATM. Problem is, I don’t think there are any great national teams now, so that plays a part too.
    They deserved to win the EC, though.
    Yes, the amount of Italian players in Serie A is too low.
    Here’s the top 5 leagues now with homegrown players: England 36%, Italy 39%, Germany 46%, France 47%, Spain 58%.
    So Spain way out in front. And to be fair to them, they’ve produced some great players in the last 15 years.
    Italy needs to slowly climb toward 50%. Plenty of deadwood to offload. I’d like to see trimmed down squads that are more about quality and less about quantity. Look at the amount of players these clubs in Italy barely ever use. They often have 35 – 50 players on their books.

  17. dangerboy


    If you don’t mind me asking, where did you get those numbers from? They look about right. If I had to guess an order, I would probably would have went with that.

    Now let me ask you. That 39%… Is somebody like Paulo Dybala (Argentine with an Italian passport) part of the 39% or is he considered the 61% non-Italian? You probably wouldn’t have that info. Because there are more stranieri than just Dybala that got hold of an Italian passport due to some 1/16th grandfather. So depending on how they are classified, it could be even less than 39%.

    Good on Spain. At least they get it.

    I will be honest. When Serie A started it’s decline and the EPL and La Liga surged ahead I thought at the time that it was a blessing in disguise as it would mean more Italians to play at the top flight. But it hasn’t been this way. Shockingly it’s only gotten worse !

    So instead of getting the best Germans (Bierhoff from Udinese), French, Brazilians, Argies, we are getting the 3rd choice of those and then getting players from the ends of the world. I mean when you look at the country of origin of some Serie A players you wonder just what’s the point? And these are players that play very few minutes so it makes even less sense.

    Telling you, if the USA wins a few Rounds in Qatar, with all these Yanks owning Serie A clubs, the influx of American players will well and truly be on. Doesn’t help that Italians love off the USA.

  18. dangerboy

    One last thing.

    You made a good point about over-the-hill once stars coming to Italy.

    I didn’t watch much of the League for a few years, but I think Ronaldinho could be an example of that. Not needed at Barca any longer and then Milan pick him up.

  19. FERBAN

    @ Dangerboy

    It’s on Transfermarkt (spelling as is lol). Click on “Competitions” and it’ll give you each league and how many are foreign in each.

    I don’t think it includes stranieri. It has 2 flags beside many players (Dybala included), but going by the Lazio squad, it’s not counting stranieri – because there are 7 Italians in that squad. It has an Italian flag with Felipe Anderson and Lucas Leiva, but doesn’t count them. It doesn’t count Dybala either, in fact.

    It shows how many foreigners in each club too. Lazio are pretty bad, with 26 foreigners from 33. Udinese with 21 from 26. Spezia, surprisingly, have 22 from 31.

    Yes, Ronaldinho, despite his stature, was a gimmick signing. Beckham too, albeit on loan. Look at the wages Juve are paying Ramsey to play once a month. Crazy.

  20. dangerboy


    I’ve seen that site before but never perused it.

    It was great to see Empoli today with their 7 Italian Starters defeat Salernitana that only started 2.

    Who does Salernitana think they are?

    Ridiculous league. This is real bad.

  21. FERBAN

    No problem.

    Yes, good site for stats. Shows whose contract is up too – plenty of big mane freebies next summer.

    Yes, it’s strange to see some of the promoted teams full of foreign players too. You’d think they’d be the one exception.

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