Manchester, October 21
Cristiano Ronaldo’s late winning goal capped a classic Manchester United comeback victory in the Champions League. Less chaotically, Bayern Munich and Juventus also recorded typical wins to dominate their groups with three straight wins and no conceded goals.
Trailing 0-2 at half-time at home against Atalanta, with Paul Pogba left on the bench, Manchester United’s wild season under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looked set to derail with last place of the group. Ronaldo put the club back on top, 3-2, in the 81st minute after goals from Marcus Rashford and Harry Maguire to deliver Old Trafford a second straight win in the competition.
Bayern beat Benfica 4-0 with late goals including one by Robert Lewandowski after notable saves by Manuel Neuer in the Lisbon stadium where they won the 2020 title 14 months ago.
It was an effective 1-0 victory for Juventus at Zenit St. Petersburg thanks to an 86th-minute goal from Dejan Kulusevski.
Defending champions Chelsea also won a 4-0 victory over Malmö, but lost forwards Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner to injuries.
Salzburg was the other group leader in action, beating Wolfsburg 3-1 with goals of the kind of young forwards that the Austrian champions excel at nurturing and then trading. German teenager striker Karim Adeyemi scored early before 21-year-old Swiss winger Noah Okafor scored twice in the second half for Salzburg.
Barcelona eventually secured a 1-0 win over Dynamo Kiev to end undesirable historic streaks for the club and keep in touch in the Bayern-led squad.
Villarreal, who was beaten by Ronaldo’s game-winning goal in stoppage time three weeks ago, won 4-1 over Young Boys to move the Europa League champion from last to second in the group .
A 0-0 draw between Lille and Sevilla reduced the goal average to three per game with 24 in total a day after a run of 35 goals in eight games on Tuesday.
The return of Man U
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has many critics outside of Manchester United who doubt the club will come close to major titles as they approach three years in charge. Among them were the fans who mocked the squad at half-time after seeing Mario Pasalic score for Atalanta in the 15th minute and Merih Demiral in the 29th. Marcus Rashford started the return in the 53rd and – with Pogba now on the pitch – Harry Maguire equalized in the 75th, six minutes before Ronaldo got his 138th career Champions League goal. Solskjaer praised the fans for helping lift and singing the players to victory, which “that’s what you do at Manchester United on Champions League night”. – AP / PTI