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Three things Ole Gunnar Solskjaer got wrong and one he got right in Man United’s Atalanta draw

The pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ramped back up despite Cristiano Ronaldo riding to Manchester United’s rescue once again against Atalanta in the Champions League.

Solskjaer made three changes to the side that comfortably defeated Tottenham, but Josip Illic put the hosts in front just 12 minutes in thanks to a major blunder by David De Gea.

Though Cristiano Ronaldo equalised on the stroke of half-time, an error from Harry Maguire allowed Duvan Zapata to run through and Atalanta back ahead 11 minutes after the break.

It looked like United would crash to defeat in Italy but Ronaldo scored a wonderful goal in injury time to rescue a point.

Here Idusport looks at three things Solskjaer got wrong and one he got right as United suffered another disappointing result…

Pairing Rashford and Ronaldo

After seeing Edinson Cavani and Cristiano Ronaldo thrive up-front against Tottenham on Saturday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer opted to rest the former against Atalanta.

But that decision did not pay off, with Rashford and Ronaldo frequently picking up the same positions.

United badly lacked a focal point to base their attacking threat around, while Rashford also dropped deep in an attempt to get on the ball.

The England international had no shots on target in the first half, while his strike partner also struggled to create chances.

Starting Pogba

Much of United’s success against Spurs came from their solid defensive play, which saw their hosts fail to have a shot on target.

That solid style was helped by the selection of two defensive midfielders in Fred and Scott McTominay, but Solskjaer opted to start Paul Pogba over the former in Italy.

The attacking make-up of their central midfield left the Red Devils badly exposed when Atalanta attacked, with the Serie A side frequently finding space between the lines.

Pogba also frequently gave the ball away, evident 30 minutes when he played an ill-advised pass on the edge of his own box, with only a superb tackle from Eric Bailly denying Duvan Zapata from scoring.

Persisting with Maguire

Harry Maguire continues to be trusted to start by Solskjaer, despite his desperately poor form since the start of the season.

The United captain was frequently caught out by long balls over the top and failed to contain Atalanta striker Zapata.

He was at fault for the hosts’ second goal, playing Zapata onside to allow him to run onto the end of a long pass before slotting past David De Gea.

Eric Bailly’s performance was one of the few positives for United, making Solskjaer’s frequent selection of an out of form Maguire over the Frenchman puzzling.

Changing to four at the back

The first-half injury to Raphael Varane saw Solskjaer change systems, with Mason Greenwood being brought on to replace the defender.

The change in systems gave United more of an impetus in attack, with Greenwood taking up position on the right wing and Rashford on the left.

It did not take long after Greenwood’s arrival for United to get back on level terms, with Ronaldo linking up with Bruno Fernandes before firing in the equaliser.

United were also on the front foot much more at the start of the second-half, putting the Atalanta goal under pressure.

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One Comment

  1. The second goal score by Zapata was by means a fault of Maguire, it was Bailey who allowed his man elude him without watching the position of his central defensive partner. This notwithstanding, in my opinion though, Bailey was still the best performer of the night

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