United writers' views on another dramatic night
Manchester United were involved in another dramatic Champions League tie on Tuesday, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring twice in a 2-2 draw at Atalanta.
The result leaves the Reds top of Group F ahead of our outing at Villarreal next month, and there were plenty of talking points after an evening of ups and downs in Bergamo.
Here, several of our club writers reveal what they made of the action as the dust settled on this latest test on the continent...
Bailly was a ball magnet
"As someone who has always favoured playing at the back, albeit only in leisurely seven-a-side games after work these days, I have an affinity and an appreciation for professional defenders. For example, I still buzz at the memory of sitting near AC Milan legend Franco Baresi when covering a United youth-team trip to Tuscany, while the Reds' very own Wes Brown sat next to me. In another part of Italy last night, Eric Bailly's performance had me applauding and occasionally agog when Atalanta's voyages into United territory faltered on his rock-like presence. That incredible, point-blank block to deny Duvan Zapata a first-half goal was the obvious highlight but at other times all it took was a timely toe from the Ivorian to disrupt the Italians. And even though Eric's possible culpability in Zapata's second-half strike to make it 2-1 cost him some credit in social media circles, his display was, for me, a key reason why Cristiano Ronaldo was able to go on and steal the show and the Man of the Match accolade. Time and time again, Bailly was in the perfect place to intercept and intervene, as if the ball was pulled towards him by a magnetic force. More of the same in Saturday's Manchester derby please."
Gutted to miss an incredible trip
"I was meant to be in Bergamo last night, only for the weekend’s travel chaos in London, after I reported on the Spurs game, caused me to miss my flight from Manchester. Instead, I had to settle for watching the game from the sofa and, for most of it, I was glad to be doing so, as the Reds looked to be slipping towards defeat. But that man Ronaldo popped up with another timely goal in this season’s Champions League and in that moment of ecstasy I wholeheartedly wished I’d been in that press box at the Gewiss Stadium. After hearing my screams of delight, my neighbours no doubt felt the same!"
Stress levels through the roof
"I’m no fan of VAR and it contributed to a night of mixed emotions as the Reds finally managed to grab an extremely important point in the context of the group. Even allowing for my obvious United bias, I did feel Josip Ilicic‘s opener could be ruled out for David De Gea’s vision being affected by an offside player but credit must go to the Reds for such a well-worked leveller. Then came the frustration of seeing Duvan Zapata allowed to net from inside the six-yard box and the replay indicating he may have been onside, only for the VAR check to take an age to confirm it. All the frustration at the lack of efforts on goal in a bid to retrieve the situation vanished in an instant when Cristiano Ronaldo gloriously volleyed in. My first thought was it was stupendous, and further out than it seemed on second inspection, but this was again tempered by another wait as VAR prompted another long pause, apparently for a supposed handball by Mason Greenwood in the build-up. The fact this rule seemed to have changed this term (which would render this fine), coupled with a lack of replays, caused the blood pressure to boil but, thankfully, it stood and I could be content with the draw."
Greenwood stepped up
"With 38 minutes on the clock and Raphael Varane unable to continue, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer opted to switch from a back three to a four-man defence and call upon the services of Mason Greenwood from the bench, to boost United’s search for the equaliser at the other end. Entering the fray with the Reds 1-0 down and chasing the game in front of a lively home crowd at the Gewiss Stadium, the 20-year-old showed maturity beyond his years and failed to shy away from the assignment. Shortly after his introduction, Greenwood’s incisive ball into the feet of Bruno Fernandes allowed for the link-up between the latter and Cristiano Ronaldo to get us back on level terms, before he became the provider himself, teeing up our no.7’s last-gasp equaliser in stoppage time. Ronaldo has rightly received the majority of the headlines as a result of his latest heroics, but they should come with some due credit to Mason for his crucial contribution towards what looks to be a vital point in our Champions League campaign."
The opinions expressed in this article are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of Manchester United.