Cristiano Ronaldo strikes late in both halves to haul Manchester United to a 2-2 draw with Atalanta, who lead twice through Josip Ilicic and Duvan Zapata goals; United joint top of Group F going into crucial clash at Villarreal.
Two moments of magic from the 36-year-old, whose goals alone have now earned United five of their seven Champions League points, earned them a point they barely deserved to remain top of Group F, and able to qualify for the last 16 with victory over Villarreal in their next match.
United’s fond memories of their 3-0 win at Tottenham on Saturday were banished inside 12 minutes when Josip Ilicic fired Atalanta ahead from Duvan Zapata’s cross, with help from David de Gea’s fumble of the Slovenian’s relatively straightforward effort.
A fine one-touch move pulled United level at the end of a familiarly uninspiring first half when Bruno Fernandes’ perfect backheel teed up Ronaldo to take a touch and beat Juan Musso from eight yards.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side came out looking sharper after the break but found themselves behind again 11 minutes into the second period.
Jose Palomino’s ball in behind caught out the United defence and found Zapata just onside, but, after beating De Gea at his near post, he was made to wait more than two minutes for a VAR review to overturn the linesman’s initial raised flag.
United pushed but could not find a way to test Musso until more Ronaldo brilliance in injury-time saw the veteran find the bottom corner with a 20-yard volley to earn another spectacular last-gasp result but raise more questions than answers for Solskjaer and his team.