There were a few whispers about Cristiano Ronaldo heading into last night’s game.
Was he a problem rather than a solution in Manchester United’s attack? Is he struggling to gel with his teammates? At 36 does he have the work rate United need to lead the line?
Ronaldo provided an emphatic response with a complete performance for Manchester United against Atalanta.
Strong work rate
Ronaldo even in a dire first half for the team, showed a willingness to move around outside the box and create chances.
He provided passes for his teammates and moved well, and this enabled him to attempt more shots at goal than any player on the pitch.
Ronaldo attempted seven shots in total, more than Atalanta trio Duvan Zapata, Luis Muriel and Josip Ilicic combined.
From these seven shots, four of them were on target, and Ronaldo’s best effort was saved for last as he headed Luke Shaw’s cross into the bottom corner.
He did not let missed chances get him down. While frustrated, he made sure the final opportunity counted.
Ronaldo had created three chances, a product of his work dropping deep to try and link up with his teammates.
Tellingly, at the end of the game, Ronaldo made the late interception to kill off the final Atalanta attack, inside his own box.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer talked up Ronaldo after the game and says this performance should silence his critics.
Solskjaer told the club website: “He’s great in front of goal. If anyone wants to criticise him for work-rate or attitude, just watch this game. Watch how he runs around.”
United’s performance was not perfect, and it’s not healthy to defend so badly that you go 2-0 down. But having got into that hole, United did so well to bounce back and recover and come away from Old Trafford with the win.
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