Cristiano Ronaldo is the oldest man to score at least two goals in a European match for Manchester United.
Four games, five goals. Two late winners. An injury-time equalizer.
This Champions League campaign is absurd even by Cristiano Ronaldo's standards.
Manchester United's season is a strange mix of madness and magic moments. Their defense was responsible for their win against Ronaldo and Atalanta, and they are again the source of the latter.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, United's manager, is under increasing pressure. With United in danger of falling from the top to third place in the group and their fate in the last 16 being decided by their own hands, the competition's all time top scorer delivered.
Ronaldo had already helped United once by scoring an equalizer before the break. But he saved the best for the 91st minutes when he scored from the box to level the score and earn them a 2-2 draw.
"It was a tough game, but we persevered until the end. Ronaldo said, "I helped my team get one point and I'm so glad." "We never give up. We believe until the very end, and that's a great result for us."
Ronaldo scored in all of his team's group games this season. He won against Villarreal late and at home to Atalanta before scoring his double at the lively Gewiss Stadium.
He scored his 127th goal in 303 matches in all competitions of Manchester United. This made him the oldest player to have scored two goals or more in a single game in European competition.
The 36-year old is also the first to score in four consecutive Champions League appearances since Ruud Van Nistelrooy's April 2003 arrival.
Solskjaer stated, "We all have our roles & responsibilities." He is a leader.
He does provide those moments. I'm sure the Chicago Bulls were not bothered by Michael Jordan. Cristiano is improving and getting better for us, I'm sure.
Solskjaer said, speaking to BT Sport: "Cristiano's just amazing.
"That's exactly what he does, and if you're looking for someone to do that - which can be difficult - it's him. He was a master at that volley.
"He arrives at the most important occasions and delivers"
Ronaldo scored five goals in four of the Champions League's group stages. This is the fifth time Ronaldo has been involved in this Champions League event.
Ronaldo's goal return this season, now nine in 11, has never been in doubt. However, there have been some criticisms of his overall contribution.
There were concerns that his presence could affect United's ability as a team, especially after the Liverpool defeat of 5-0.
Rio Ferdinand, a former Manchester United defender, said that while people say he isn't hardworking enough, doesn’t shut down people, doesn’t press, but he does what's hardest in the game - score goal." He steps up at the crucial moment, regardless of where he is playing, and in any stadium. He simply arrives at the most important occasions and delivers."
Leon Osman, a former Everton midfielder, stated that the second goal was inevitable when Ronaldo's ball landed on the Atalanta box edge.
Osman said that "Atalanta will be cursing themselves for not being able to see this through to victory by 2-1."
"You didn't know how Manchester United could manipulate an opportunity, but you'll see what happens when it falls in the path of Cristiano Ronaldo.
"Magical moment from an extraordinary player, and it was crucial. United had to ensure they didn't lose the game.
United finished second despite Ronaldo's brilliant performance. Solskjaer's team continues to struggle at home against Manchester City, and it will be a tough week.
Ferdinand stated that United will be thrown out if they perform against Manchester City in the second half.
"The intensity wasn't there. It was in disarray. It was chaotic. Ronaldo saved them in halftime.
"United were lucky Atalanta didn’t score more, and the great man took over."
Paul Scholes, a former United midfielder, said: "If it wasn't for that second goal it would have been a mess. Ronaldo pulled his team from the muck of a second-half that was poor.
Gian Piero Gasperini was also disappointed to see his team lose a two goal lead at Old Trafford. He said that he was now "1,000" on a frustration scale.
He said, "We believed that we could do it." "It seemed like they were out of breath, but we came up against an amazing player."