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Atalanta coach laughs at United’s ‘Ronaldo problem’

champions league group f atalanta v manchester united
Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo with Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini after the match

Cristiano Ronaldo saved Manchester United from defeat at Atalanta on Tuesday with a superb stoppage time strike and left the Italian club’s coach Gian Piero Gasperini laughing wrily at the notion the 36-year-old has been to blame for United’s inconsistent form.

Ronaldo has scored in all four Champions League games in group F so far, with five goals in total including his double in the 2-2 draw in Bergamo, and has a further four goals from seven Premier League outings.

He brought United level on the stroke of half-time before his magnificently executed volley from the edge of the box stole a point for United at the end.

“Some even managed to say he was a problem, imagine Ronaldo as a problem! He never gets it off target – half the time he scores, half the time it is saved,” Gasperini said.

At 36, Ronaldo’s lack of pressing work had led some critics to recently question if he was unbalancing the United side, but his manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer clearly understands the quality he brings to the side.

“Cristiano is just incredible if there is anyone you want a chance to fall to … and it’s a difficult chance. He keeps his eye on the ball and his technique on that volley is incredible,” said the Norwegian.

Atalanta were understandably dejected at seeing what would have been a famous victory slip out of their hands in the final minutes of the game.

The Serie A side had led twice on Tuesday but left with just a point, having let a two-goal lead slip at Old Trafford last month when Ronaldo grabbed the 81st minute winner in a 3-2 victory.

“In the Champions League, great players can change a game that you deserved to win and then don’t. A third goal would’ve killed it, that was the case in Manchester too, and we certainly had the chances to go 3-1 up in both games,” he said.

Solskjaer felt the performance had also answered another criticism of his players heard in the aftermath of their recent 5-0 home loss to Liverpool.

“Definitely no-one can question the character of these players. They just don’t give up, they don’t give in and they keep going. We had to make a few changes and they worked,” he said.

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