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Ronaldo to the rescue once more for Manchester United v Atalanta

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the 3-2 lead during the Uefa Champions League Group F match between Manchester United and Atalanta BC in Manchester, Britain, on 20 October 2021. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Peter Powell)

Portuguese legend Cristiano Ronaldo scored the winner to see Manchester United edge Italians Atalanta in another eventful Uefa Champions League instalment.

The four representatives of the English Premier League all left their supporters with something to smile about in the latest chapter of the Uefa Champions League, each picking up crucial maximum points. Although some sweated more than others on their way to the three points.

Manchester United came from 2-0 down to beat Atalanta 3-2 at Old Trafford and ease some of the scrutiny on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær.

Ronaldo, the Champions League’s all-time leading goal scorer, scored an 81st-minute winner with a superbly executed header to send the Red Devils to the summit of Group F, with six points from their three games.

Speaking after the game, Solskjær scoffed at the suggestion that the players had shown they were playing for him and had saved his job with the comeback win.

“Don’t disrespect the players. They play for Manchester United and they know they are the luckiest men in the world,” he said. “They are the luckiest men in the world because they get to play for Manchester United. That is what so many millions of boys and girls want to do.”

Six-time champions Liverpool squandered a 2-0 lead before eventually running out 3-2 winners against 10-man Atletico Madrid in Spain.

A Mohamed Salah penalty deep into the second half ensured that Jurgen Klopp’s Reds earned a vital three points and maintained their 100% win rate after three games.

Salah’s brace, sandwiched between a sweet volley by Naby Keita, saw him become the club’s highest scorer in the competition with 31 goals, surpassing the record he shared with former captain Steven Gerrard. The Egyptian also set a club record by scoring for the ninth game in a row in all competitions.

Manchester United’s Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo (right) scores his team’s third goal during the Uefa Champions League Group F match between Manchester United and Atalanta at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, northwest England, on 20 October 2021. (Photo: Paul ELLIS / AFP)

Blue is the colour

Whereas their Premier League rivals laboured to hard-fought wins, Manchester City and Chelsea had no such issues, cruising to comfortable victories over Club Brugge and Malmo respectively.

The Citizens blew past Belgian side Brugge 5-1 with a typically clinical performance as Algerian Riyad Mahrez picked up a brace for himself. Despite the commanding victory, City are second in Group A, trailing leaders Paris Saint-Germain by a single point.

The Parisians secured an important three points after holding off a stubborn RB Leipzig outfit for a 3-2 victory, inspired by a Lionel Messi double and an early goal from Kylian Mbappé. The Frenchman also missed a penalty in added time.

City’s English rivals Chelsea cruised to a 4-0 success over Swedish side Malmo as the rain poured down in London. The Blues’ dominant win was tarnished by injuries to the key duo of Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner.

“Romelu twisted his ankle with the foul in the box and Timo has a hamstring injury. It will take a while for both of them. We need more examinations … but they will be out for some matches,” Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said after the match.

Best of the rest

Bayern Munich struck four times in a frantic 15-minute spell late in the second half to cruise past Benfica Lisbon 4-0 on Wednesday and make it three wins out of three Champions League Group E matches.

Former Manchester City attacker Leroy Sane was the star of the show, scoring a brace on the night. Ballon d’Or hopeful Robert Lewandowski also added his name to the scoresheet.

Elsewhere, Gerard Piqué was the unlikely hero as he volleyed home Jordi Alba’s cross in the 36th minute to register Barcelona’s first goal of this season’s competition and secure their first victory after back-to-back 3-0 defeats by Bayern Munich and Benfica.

Barca’s rivals Real Madrid wiped away memories of their shocking loss to Champions League debutants Sheriff Tiraspol in their last Group D game. Los Blancos walloped Shakhtar Donetsk 5-0, thanks to a Vinicius Jr double.

Rodrygo and the on-form Karim Benzema added gloss to the score. DM168

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for R25 at Pick n Pay, Exclusive Books and airport bookstores. For your nearest stockist, please click here.

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