Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up to score a memorable headed winner for Manchester United.
It was a special moment, and one which would not have been possible if David de Gea had not kept United in the game.
De Gea produced a vital double save with United 2-1 up, before Harry Maguire scored an equaliser leading to Ronaldo’s winner.
Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini was frustrated at his side’s capitulation.
Gasperini was quoted after the game by Football Italia talking up how the save from De Gea changed the course of the game.
The Atalanta boss said: “I don’t know if we couldn’t have done more. Of course, we believed, but in an environment like this it just takes a spark to get them fired up again.
“We had the sensation we were holding out, we went very close to going 3-1 up and their goalkeeper made a wonderful double save, then the 2-2 happened.”
Gasperini said he was well aware Atalanta were not the only team to lose to a comeback at Old Trafford.
He said: “Manchester United comebacks and late wins are typical at Old Trafford, I’ve lost count of how many times they’ve done it here, so it’s a characteristic of theirs.”
He is cautiously optimistic for the second match, adding: “The second leg is going to be tough, as they are so dangerous when spaces open up, but we showed tonight that we can have our say in this group and at this level.”
United saw enough from Atalanta to recognise how tough the game in Italy will be.
It is likely to be another open game and United will go there looking to win, but will have the fans against them.
The Old Trafford crowd was huge in the second half. Atalanta will hope for similar on their side in the game in Italy.
- Ralf Rangnick is the perfect man to hand over to an elite permanent United manager
- Who is Ronald Araujo and why is he being linked to Manchester United?
- Cavani issues fitness update ahead of United’s clash with Chelsea
- Josh King admits blocked Manchester United move was worst moment of his career
- Carrick says van de Beek is capable of playing as a false nine