Luke Shaw and Cristiano Ronaldo combined to devastating effect for Manchester United’s dramatic winner against Atalanta in the Champions League clash at Old Trafford.
After coming back from 2-0 down at half-time to win 3-2 at the Theatre of Dreams, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his players will be on cloud nine, but will also be aware that further significant improvements are needed with bigger tests lying immediately ahead.
Following strikes from Marcus Rashford and Harry Maguire, we were level with 15 minutes remaining and the Stretford End was doing its best to suck the ball into the back of the Atalanta net.
And then in the 81st minute, Shaw whipped in a pin-point cross for Ronaldo to hang in the air and head the ball past Juan Musso, which resulted in a chorus of noise and ecstasy radiating inside our famous ground.
Ronaldo sank to his knees as the referee blew the final whistle and alongside Maguire, Shaw was there to embrace the 36-year-old after their match-winning combination.
Hopefully the floodgates will open
Following the return of Ronaldo, whose goalscoring pedigree in the air is unrivalled, and with Shaw creating nine goals across games for United and England last season, Solskjaer will be hoping that yesterday’s first aerial contribution between the pair will be the springboard for more match-winning moments.
Both of Shaw’s assists this season have come via Ronaldo after he set up the former Juventus man’s second in his homecoming against Newcastle after driving through the middle of the pitch.
If Ronaldo is given chances, he will score and with him arguably being the greatest goalscorer of all-time, certainly with his head, if Shaw gets his delivery right, he could surpass last season’s personal best assist tally.
The header was similar to the cross provided for Ronaldo’s goal against Luxembourg last week, from a Ruben Neves cross from a similarly deep position. United need to create more chances like this.
Having Ronaldo up front is a very different option to the likes of Mason Greenwood or Anthony Martial, who are not as adept at heading and prefer the ball to feet. Ronaldo’s presence requires a shift in style, at least more variety.
Shaw’s assist shows United are learning, and it was a positive sign of what may be to come.
- 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
- Rangnick tipped to have same impact at United like Tuchel did at Chelsea
- Manchester United fans react to Dusan Vlahovic reports