Manchester United coach compares Ronaldo to Michael Jordan after UCL soccer draw

Manchester United coach compares Ronaldo to Michael Jordan after UCL soccer draw
Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo scored both goals in a 2-2 draw with Atalanta in the group stage of the Champions League on Tuesday in Bergamo, Italy. Photo by Paolo Magni/EPA-EFE

Nov. 3 (UPI) -- Manchester United coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer compared Cristiano Ronaldo to Michael Jordan after the striker scored twice to salvage a draw with Atalanta in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League soccer tournament.

Ronaldo scored in first-half stoppage time and second-half stoppage time of the 2-2 draw Tuesday at Gewiss Stadium in Bergamo, Italy. A loss would have knocked the Red Devils out of first place in Group F. They remain atop the group, tied with Villareal.


The two scores brought Ronaldo's total tally to 127 career goals for the Red Devils, passing Solskjaer for 15th in team history.

"He is incredible and if there is anyone you want the ball to fall to in the last minute it is him," Solskjaer told reporters, when asked about Ronaldo. "He is the best goal scorer alive and it is hard for me to say that because he just went past me with these two goals, now he has one more goal for Manchester United than me.

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"That last goal, that must be a Michael Jordan moment when he wins championships in extra time."

Striker Josip Ilicic drew first blood for Atalanta in the 12th minute. Fellow forward Duvan Zapata dribbled up the left flank, jabbed his dribble inside the box and split several defenders with a pass through the middle.

Ilicic hovered near the area and ran toward the pass. He used his left foot for a shot through traffic, which went by Red Devils keeper David de Gea.

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The Italian Serie A squad held the lead through most of the first half. Ronaldo equalized in the first minute of first-half stoppage time.

The Red Devils completed several quick passes inside the box to set up that score. Forward Bruno Fernandes used a blind heel pass to find Ronaldo on the final sequence.

Ronaldo settled the feed and ripped a shot into the left side of the net.

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Atalanta retook the lead less than 11 minutes into the second half. Left back Jose Luis Palomino lofted a long pass up the left flank to spark that score. The 30-yard pass landed in the box, just ahead of Zapata. The Atalanta striker finished the play with a tapped shot around de Gea's right hip and into the net.


Atalanta appeared ready to move on with a 2-1 victory, but Ronaldo netted an equalizer in the first minute of final stoppage time.

Ronaldo dribbled through the box, but lost control of the ball. Mason Greenwood recovered the loose ball for the Red Devils and sent a pass back to the star striker. Ronaldo finished the play with a volley shot into the left side of the net.

"Well, it was a difficult game," Ronaldo told BT Sport.

"When you play in Bergamo against Atalanta, it's always difficult. But we believed until the end and I help my team to get one point and I'm so happy."

Ronaldo has now scored in four-consecutive Champions League matches. He scored nine times in his last 11 matches for the Red Devils.

He is now tied with Brian McClair for the 15th-most scores in Manchester United history. Tommy Taylor ranks No. 14 with 131 goals for the Red Devils. Wayne Rooney tops the Red Devils leaderboard with 253 career scores.

The Red Devils host Manchester City in Premier League play at 8:30 a.m. EDT Saturday at Old Trafford in Manchester, England. They face Villareal in another Champions League group stage match at 12:45 p.m. EDT Nov. 23 at El Madrigal in Villarreal, Spain.


Atalanta faces Cagliari in Serie A play at 3:45 p.m. EDT Saturday in Cagliari, Italy. Atlanta battles Young Boys of the Swiss Super League in another Champions League group stage match at 3 p.m. EDT Nov. 23 at Wankdorf Stadium in Bern, Switzerland.

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