Atalanta boss Gasperini laughs off ‘Ronaldo problem’ claims after late equaliser for Man Utd
Atalanta head coach Gian Piero Gasperini laughed off claims Cristiano Ronaldo has been culpable for Manchester United’s inconsistent form and offered the Portuguese star praise after his last-gasp equaliser.
Ronaldo volleyed home a 91st-minute equaliser to deny Atalanta three points in their dramatic 2-2 draw in the Champions League on Tuesday.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner levelled the game twice late in each half, after Josip Ilicic’s 12th-minute opener and Duvan Zapata’s 56th-minute strike.
During United’s lean run of form, there had been some criticism of Ronaldo for his defensive work, but he has now scored in every group game in this season’s Champions League.
Ronaldo, 36, became the oldest player to score two or more goals in a game for United in European competition, having also matched Ruud van Nistelrooy’s 2003 feat of scoring in four consecutive Champions League appearances.
“Some even managed to say he was a problem, imagine Ronaldo as a problem,” Gasperini told Sky Sport Italia after the game. “He rarely gets it off target, half the time he scores, half the time it is saved.”
The result leaves United top of Group F on head-to-head from Villarreal, with both sides on seven points, while Atalanta are third on five points approaching the final two matchdays.
2 – Cristiano Ronaldo (36y & 270d) is the oldest player to score 2+ goals in a single game for Manchester United in European competition. Evergreen. #ATAMUN
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 2, 2021
Gasperini admitted deep regret at Ronaldo’s opportunistic equaliser but continued to praise the United veteran, who has five goals in the Champions League group stage, along with four in the Premier League this season.
“The regret is one thousand. We believed in it,” Gasperini said during his post-game news conference. “We believed in it because their thrust seemed a bit exhausted too.
“We had good spaces, we controlled the race well and was very close. But this is the Champions League. We faced an extraordinary player with incredible ballistic ability, he fired a shot on a bounced ball several times. This determined the result.
“We have to accept it anyway we still have some chances for qualification. It still depends on us. We played two games that have given a lot to us, to Atalanta and Bergamo.”
Michael Owen predicts Atalanta vs Man Utd result ahead of Champions League showdown
Former Manchester United striker Michael Owen has given his pre-match prediction ahead of the Red Devils’ trip to Atalanta for their fourth Champions League group stage game of the season.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appears to have earned himself some much-needed breathing room after registering a crucial victory over TottenhamHotspur on Saturday.
Speculation over Solskjaer’s future as Man Utd boss has been rife since the 5-0 home humiliation at the hands of fierce rivals Liverpool, but the Norwegian remains in charge for now.
Solskjaer will know how crucial a win away at Atalanta could prove to be in terms of maintaining whatever kind of feel-good factor there is around the club following the Spurs win.
The Serie A side ran United dangerously close last time out at Old Trafford, boasting a 2-0 lead at half-time.
However, a Cristiano Ronaldo- inspired comeback ensured United’s blushes were spared and Solskjaer’s men came away with all three points.
Speaking to BetVictor, former United goalscorer Owen believes another win over their Italian counterparts could be a task too far tonight.
Referring to the win over Spurs last weekend, Owen claimed: “That was a huge, potentially season-saving win for United on Saturday.
“I thought the change of shape worked really well and the strike duo of Cavani and Ronaldo caused lots of problems.
“This will be a tough game for them though and a point would be an excellent result. I’m going for 1-1.”
United’s form in recent weeks has been dismal, but Saturday’s victory could provide a springboard to kick-start some form ahead of a daunting run of fixtures.
Lindelof not in Man Utd squad for Atalanta clash
Victor Lindelof will miss Manchester United’s Champions League game against Atalanta after picking up a knock in training Monday.
The club said the centre-back did not make the trip to Bergamo ahead of Tuesday’s Group F clash.
Lindelof played in the back alongside Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane in Saturday’s 3-0 defeat of Tottenham.
If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sticks with a back three, Eric Bailly seems the most likely option to step in for Lindelof against Atalanta.
Luke Shaw could also move to centre-back, leaving an opening on the left wing that could be filled by Alex Telles.
Lindelof has started all three of United’s Champions League matches this season, and six of ten Premier League fixtures.
United are top of Group F after fighting back for wins over Villarreal and Atalanta following a loss away to Young Boys to open the group stage.
Wheels up for Atalanta with @Aeroflot_World! 🇮🇹#MUFC | #UCL pic.twitter.com/Fg1I4rzKPe
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) November 1, 2021
Transfer7 months ago
Cristiano Ronaldo returns trigger as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has named replacement for Fred
Transfer5 months ago
Man United agree £51million terms to sign star – Report
Premier League7 months ago
Man Utd release official club statement over Sunday protests
Transfer7 months ago
Tottenham Hotspur land Kane’s transfer blow on Man City, Man Utd and others
Champions League8 months ago
Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool ‘could be banned’ from Champions League next season
Premier League5 months ago
Greenwood may switch international allegiance despite playing for England
Serie A7 months ago
Jose Mourinho’s comments about Chris Smalling’s feet as former Man Utd boss takes Roma job
Champions League5 months ago
UEFA confirm rule change that will impact Chelsea, Tottenham and West Ham