Ronaldo is United’s hero yet again in wild win


Cristiano Ronaldo saved Manchester United again in the Champions League.

The greatest scorer in the competition’s history soared to head in an 81st minute winner as United erased a two goal halftime deficit to beat Atalanta 3-2 in a wild match at Old Trafford.

“His leap, his timing – it was the perfect header,” United captain Harry Maguire said.

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“He has come up with a massive goal again in the Champions League.”

Ronaldo’s record-extending 138th goal in the Champions League came three weeks after he scored in the fifth minute of stoppage time to snatch a victory over Villarreal in the second round of games.

United did it the hard way again after falling 2-0 behind following goals by Mario Pašalić in the 15th minute and Merih Demiral in the 29th.

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United punished by big defender

The team was jeered off the field after the halftime whistle.

However, United showed a different side in the second half, laying siege to Atalanta’s goal as Marcus Rashford reduced the deficit in the 53rd with a calm finish following a stunning outside-of-the-foot through ball by Bruno Fernandes.

Maguire swept in the equaliser in the 75th and Ronaldo met a cross by Luke Shaw for the winner, hanging in the air before planting a header down and inside the post.

The Portugal striker made a last-ditch clearance in the final seconds and then fell to his knees at the final whistle as United fans sang his name.

Ronaldo has now scored six goals in eight games since returning for a second spell at United and he was playing his 300th game for the club.

United moved into first place in Group F, two points above Villarreal and Atalanta.

The win relieves some of the pressure on United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, whose team had won only two of its last seven games in all competitions.

Solskjaer vowed to make changes to the team to restore some balance and he was true to his word, dropping Paul Pogba and pairing Scott McTominay and Fred in central midfield.

Champions League highlights: Manchester United vs Atalanta

Initially, it didn’t work, with Atalanta still managing to pick off United in the first half.

The momentum of the game swung at halftime, with Atalanta looking less assured at the back after Demiral was forced off at the break because of injury.

BARCELONA 1, DYNAMO KIEV 0

It took one of Barcelona’s veterans to keep the Catalan club from facing an early elimination in the Champions League.

Gerard Piqué’s first-half goal equaled a Champions League scoring mark for defenders and helped Barcelona edge Dynamo Kiev 1-0 to end its losing streak and get back in position to advance to the knockout stage of the European competition.

Piqué scored his 16th Champions League goal to secure the crucial win for Barcelona, which had opened with consecutive 3-0 losses to Bayern Munich and Benfica and was in danger of not getting past the group stage for the first time since 2000-01.

The victory put the Catalan club in third place in Group E, two points in front of Dynamo and one behind Benfica, which hosts leader Bayern later Wednesday.

It was Barcelona’s second win in a row after it had won only once in six matches in all competitions.

It had been winless in five straight Champions League games, its longest run without a win since 1997.

Champions League highlights: Barcelona vs Dynamo Kyiv

It had lost its last three Champions League matches at home for its worst streak ever in the European competition.

“We can’t waste so many opportunities, we were playing for our lives,” Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman said.

“We could have scored more.”

CHELSEA 4, MALMO 0

Injuries to strikers Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner marred Chelsea’s impressive 4-0 win over Malmo in the Champions League.

Lukaku appeared to hurt his right ankle getting fouled for a penalty that was converted by Jorginho for the second goal in the 21st minute, adding to the opener volleyed in by Andreas Christensen in the ninth minute.

The Belgium international initially tried to play on but before long was signaling to be substituted.

Champions League highlights: Chelsea vs Malmo

Werner, the strike partner of Lukaku, then had to come off with an apparent hamstring injury just before halftime at Stamford Bridge.

Kai Havertz came on as the replacement for Lukaku and lifted a deft finish over the goalkeeper for the third goal in the 48th minute at the end of a breakaway led by fellow substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Jorginho eschewed his trademark penalty routine — the hop, skip and sidefoot shot — for his first-half penalty and he repeated that with another spot kick in the 57th minute to make it 2-0 after a foul on Antonio Rudiger.

BAYERN MUNICH 4, BENFICA 0

Bayern Munich kept up its winning start to the Champions League as Leroy Sané scored twice in a 4-0 win over Benfica, but coach Julian Nagelsmann wasn’t there to see it.

Bayern didn’t open the scoring until the 70th minute after two disallowed goals, but once Sané had put Bayern in front, Benfica crumbled.

The win puts Bayern five points clear of Benfica at the top of Group E with 12 goals scored and none conceded, and helps third-place Barcelona, now just one point off a qualifying spot following its 1-0 victory over Dynamo Kiev.

Champions League highlights: Bayern vs Benefica

Just over an hour before kickoff, Bayern said Nagelsmann had “a flu-like infection,” leaving assistants Dino Toppmöller and Xaver Zembrod to oversee the game.

Nagelsmann’s absence didn’t seem to affect Bayern’s creativity but there wasn’t the usual precise finishing, as shots went wide or were saved by goalkeeper Odysseas Vlachodimos.

Bayern’s players twice celebrated taking the lead, only for video reviews to disallow both goals.

The first was a Robert Lewandowski effort which on replay went in off his upper arm, the second a well-worked move finished by Thomas Müller but only after an offside in the buildup.

JUVENTUS 1, ZENIT ST PETERSBURG 0

Substitute Dejan Kulusevski scored late as Juventus won 1-0 at Zenit St Petersburg to preserve its perfect start to the Champions League.

Kulusevski headed in the only goal of the match four minutes from time as Juventus added to its wins against Malmo and Chelsea.

Juventus remained top of Group H.

Champions League highlights: Zenit vs Juventus

Massimiliano Allegri’s side is three points above Chelsea, which beat Malmo 4-0 in the other group match.

Zenit is six points behind Juventus with Malmo on zero points.

Juventus was full of confidence coming into the game as it was unbeaten in its previous seven matches.

It has still to concede in the Champions League after three games.

SALZBURG 3, WOLFSBURG 1

Salzburg’s young squad took a big step closer to reaching the Champions League knockout stage with a 3-1 win over Wolfsburg.

Noah Okafor scored twice after 19-year-old forward Karim Adeyemi netted early to put the Austrian team on course for victory as it bids to reach the knockout round for the first time.

“I think, if we carry on this way, if we really give everything in every game, then we have really a great chance of reaching the knockout stage,” Okafor said.

Champions League highlights: RB Salzburg vs Wolfsburg

Less than three minutes into the game, Germany international Adeyemi scored his third goal of the group stage, showing off his pace on the counter to beat defender Kevin Mbabu to a pass and sprint into the penalty area before scoring past Koen Casteels in the Wolfsburg goal.

That was Salzburg’s first goal from open play in this year’s Champions League after all of its previous three came from the penalty spot.

Champions League highlights: Sevilla vs Lille

SEVILLA 0, LILLE 0

Sevilla had the best chances to win in a tight and often dull game as it drew 0-0 at Lille in the Champions League.

Sevilla winger Lucas Ocampos went close with a curling shot saved late in the first half and a bicycle kick wide of the post in the second half.

Sevilla should have done enough to secure a first win, with striker Rafa Mir also having a shot saved off the line in the first half, but instead sits in second place in Group G with three points from three games.

Lille is third with two points.

“When you play at home, you have to push more, really want to score, to win,” Lille’s veteran captain Jose Fonte said.

“It’s a little frustrating when we think about how it was last season. We have to keep working to find the dynamic and strength of last season.”

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