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Manchester United vs Atalanta, Cristiano Ronaldo goal, Champions League, scores, reaction, news, results, video, highlights, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

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It had to be him. Cristiano Ronaldo, thumping home a header to seal a remarkable 3-2 comeback win for Manchester United over Atalanta on a magical night at Old Trafford.

The Portuguese superstar – who handed United their first Champions League win of the campaign with a late strike against Villareal – did it again with an 81st minute winner, leaping into the air to head home a Luke Shaw cross.

It was Ronaldo’s sixth goal in eight appearances since rejoining the Premier League giants, but arguably his most important yet as it reduces the pressure on coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after a woeful first half defensive performance.

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Ronaldo wheels away to celebrate.
Ronaldo wheels away to celebrate.Source: Getty Images

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United’s defensive frailties were exposed once again in a torrid opening half-hour as two crosses were turned home, with the Old Trafford faithful even booing the Red Devils at halftime.

First it was Mario Pasalic poking home a low Davide Zappacosta cross from close range to hand the Italian visitors the opener in the 15th minute. Then Atalanta centre-back Merih Demiral found space between defenders Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire on a corner and could hardly miss a simple header to double the advantage in the 28th minute.

But he grabbed the back of his right hamstring as he wheeled away in celebration, and had to be substituted at half-time. Demiral had been Atalanta’s best performer of the game, making a number of superb defensive plays in addition to his strike. His substitution changed the clash, with Atalanta already missing a host of regular starters and forced to use a makeshift defensive line.

United captain Maguire – who had been largely at fault for both of Atalanta’s goals – swept home in the 75th minute when he was left unmarked at the back post, after Marcus Rashford kickstarted the comeback with a neat 53rd-minute finish on his first start of the season.

All smiles. De Gea and Ronaldo embrace.Source: AFP

Rashford and Brazilian midfielder Fred had missed great opportunities to reduce the deficit at the conclusion of the first half, the young England forward only finding the crossbar on the brink of the interval.

But United were completely revitalised in the second stanza, attacking with intensity and fluency that was sorely lacking in the first half.

In the 53rd minute, Bruno Fernandes intercepted a sloppy pass from Zappacosta and capitalised with a brilliant first-time ball behind the lines for Rashford who tucked the ball home to the back post. Rashford came off the bench and scored in the 4-2 defeat against Leicester on the weekend after a lengthy absence due to a shoulder operation, with today’s strike his second in consecutive games.

Atalanta still showed plenty of attacking threat despite United’s assault. David de Gea was forced to make a crucial 70th-minute double save after Zapata turned Victor Lindelof and darted into the box, before Malinovski’s driven follow-up attempt drew another desperate stop from the Spanish gloveman.

Harry Maguire helped drag United back into the contest.Source: Getty Images

Jadon Sancho replaced Mason Greenwood in the 73rd minute, after Paul Pogba and Edinson Cavani had been introduced for Scott McTominay and Marcus Rashford in the 66th minute. Harry Maguire nearly headed home from a corner immediately after Greenwood’s introduction but could only direct his attempt too close to Musso.

Then Maguire found himself unmarked at the back post as a second corner was initially blocked and then delivered back into the area from out wide. The cross fell to the English centre-half, who swept home a low strike – his first of the season and first-ever in the Champions League.

United had other opportunities before Ronaldo’s winner.

Ronaldo had spurned a golden opportunity just two minutes after the restart when he was played into the box by Bruno Fernandes only to fire straight into the midriff of keeper Juan Musso. The Portugal striker saw another shot saved by Musso when he fired across goal after the hour mark.

In the 58th minute, Mason Greenwood drove in a dangerous cross but Scott McTominay could only knee it into the post from the six-yard line. And in the 79th minute, Ronaldo found Fernandes on the right side of the area as United countered again. Fernandes cut onto his left boot but his shot was smartly saved.

Ronaldo celebrates his winner.Source: Getty Images

But finally, in the 81st minute, Luke Shaw delivered a cross into the box after a corner broke down. Ronaldo rose highest and thudded it to the bottom corner with a brilliant header.

Maguire said: “His leap, his timing. It was a perfect header. I was right behind it, I seen it go right into the corner… He’s come up for a massive goal in the Champions League for us again.”

Ronaldo had cut a frustrated figure before the goal, particularly after his poor strike early in the second stanza and after Atalanta’s second goal when he shared an exasperated conversation with De Gea. But his late winner sent an already-frenzied Old Trafford crowd into raptures as the talismanic striker did exactly what he was brought back to Manchester to do.

United now sit top of Group F with two wins after their first-up loss. Atalanta and Villareal have four points apiece while Young Boys have three, having lost 4-1 to Villareal today.

But a massive test awaits on the weekend when they host second-place Liverpool in a Premier League blockbuster.

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Australia v Indonesia, score, result, analysis, Georgia Yeoman-Dale, review, opinion

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Former Matilda Georgia Yeoman-Dale was “really disappointed” at the missed opportunity for coach Tony Gustavsson to blood some youngsters in Australia’s 18-0 thumping over Indonesia.

In the FIFA women’s rankings, Indonesia are ranked at 94th in the world, a whopping 83 places below the Matildas, and were playing in their first Asian Cup match in 33 years.

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Despite the visible disparity between the two nations, Gustavsson opted to name a starting line-up that boasted 822 caps between them.

As the Matildas ran rampant, Yeoman-Dale couldn’t hide her frustration as a golden chance to give minutes to some youngsters in a game that would have been perfectly suited for it.

“I have to say, I’m really disappointed tonight, if anything,” Yeoman-Dale said.

“Fantastic, we’re scoring a lot of goals, but with what team?

“These girls have so many caps under their belts, they’ve got so much experience, they’re playing top level football.

“We’ve come out with our strongest team when we have an opportunity to play young players.

“Yes, we see Holly McNamara making her debut off the bench, fantastic.

“We see Clare Wheeler playing 90 minutes, fantastic.

“But what about Cortnee Vine? What about Remy Siemsen?

“I don’t understand why he wants to come out and have Sam Kerr score five goals against Indonesia?”

With the 2023 Women’s World Cup on Australian shores just over a year away, seeing what the next generation of Matildas can do will be vital in order to strengthen the depth within the squad.

Sam Kerr scored five goals against Indonesia. (Photo by Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

A chance as good as the Indonesia match to give players like Siemsen and Vine some minutes likely won’t come again in the tournament, but Gustavsson believed his team selection and substitutions were justified out of respect for the opposition.

“I’ve been in a similar situation before as a coach going into a tournament when you have a low-ranked team in the opening game and how important it is to treat that team with respect but also show respect to our values and our standards,” Gustavsson said.

“There’s different reasons but the number one reason is that we need that cohesion between the players and get off on a good start to send some messages to ourselves and to the other ones how we are treating this tournament.”

The Matildas will look to keep the goals flowing when they take on the Philippines in their second Asian Cup match on Monday at 9pm (AEDT).

The fixture has plenty of added spice to it, as former Matildas coach Alen Stajcic is in charge of the Aussies’ adversaries on the night and are coming off a 1-0 victory over Thailand.

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