Ronaldo concern gives Solskjaer headache as 10-man Man Utd lose it late – Player Ratings

Date published: Tuesday 14th September 2021 7:45 - Steve Pearson

Cristiano Ronaldo playing for Man Utd in the Champions League 2021

10-man Man Utd suffered the worst possible start to their Champions League campaign despite Cristiano Ronaldo scoring again after a disastrous late pass-back gifted Young Boys a 2-1 victory.

Victor Lindelof was recalled to the starting eleven in place of Raphael Varane, while Donny Van de Beek was handed a rare start in central midfield. That shifted Paul Pogba out on to the left wing with Mason Greenwood making way for Jadon Sancho who switched to the right.

After his blockbuster return versus Newcastle at the weekend, Ronaldo wasted little time making his mark in the Champions League.

The veteran striker latched on to Bruno Fernandes’ divine through ball before side-footing the ball between the goalkeeper’s legs.

Young Boys were not overawed by their expensively assembled opponents, however, and were handed a major lifeline in the 35th minute.

An errant miscontrol from Aaron Wan-Bissaka resulted in a dangerous lunge as he attempted to atone for mistake.  The right-back caught the opposition above the ankle and duly saw red to reduce Man Utd to 10 men.

Spurred on by a raucous home crowd, Young Boys equalised after the break when Moumi Ngamaleu nipped in ahead of Raphael Varane at the near post before prodding past David de Gea.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rang the changes as the match wore on in the hopes of fresh legs helping to repel attack after attack.

De Gea produced a smart stop with two minutes to go, but with the work seemingly done, an errant Jesse Lingard back-pass gifted Young Boys a last-minute winner.


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Man Utd Player Ratings

David de Gea: Strong wrist to preserve the lead in the 24th minute when diving down low to beat a goalbound effort to safety. Booked for time wasting as Man Utd endeavoured to see out the final half hour without incident. 7/10

Aaron Wan-Bissaka:¬†A non-descript performance until seeing red in the 35th minute. As is so often the case, an errant miscontrol resulted in a lunge that saw the right-back catch his opposition above the ankle. Can have no complaints about the colour of the card and put his side under huge pressure on a night that should’ve been straightforward.¬†3/10

Victor Lindelof: Recalled to the eleven and rarely looked troubled before Man Utd were reduced to 10. 6/10

Harry Maguire:¬†Defended manfully with Man Utd’s backs against the wall for the majority of the contest. Could do nothing about the last-minute winner.¬†6/10

Luke Shaw:¬†Tried to impact proceedings going forward but was forced to temper his attacking ambitions after the sending off.¬†Nutmegged for the low cross that led to Young Boys’ equaliser. 6/10

Fred: Too easy to bypass compared to truly elite players in his position. Was muscled off the ball, passed around and dribbled beyond all within the first 12 minutes. Too often picked out the safe ball back to his centre-backs instead of pushing the pace prior to their reduction to 10 men.

Settled down after the break and did his best to disrupt Young Boys from building momentum. Was run ragged in the engine room, but in fairness, wasn’t offered enough support from his teammates in the heat of the action.¬†6/10

Donny Van de Beek: Full of energy in the early going while deployed in a holding midfield role alongside Fred. Tried to break the lines with his passing range more than the Brazilian but found little success. Subbed for Varane at half-time as Solskjaer switched to a three-man backline. 5/10


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Jadon Sancho: Indecisive in possession at the conclusion of a fast-break started by Van de Beek and Ronaldo. Lacking the spark and explosiveness that typified his superb stint with Dortmund as a Man Utd player thus far. Confidence will have taken another hit when hooked for Dalot after Wan-Bissaka’s red. 5/10

Bruno Fernandes:¬†Sublime pass with the outside of his foot to tee up Ronaldo‚Äôs opener. Continued to look the most likely candidate to craft a second goal but found the going tougher than usual with a numbers disadvantage. Got through his share of defensive work blocking passing lanes on the edge of Man Utd’s box. Replaced by Matic in the 72nd minute as Solskjaer sought fresh legs with Young Boys looking the dominant side.¬†7/10

Paul Pogba: Lacked the verve seen in his Premier League outings this season but was not found wanting in the desire and determination department. Chosen to play the full 90 in a show of faith from Solskjaer when Fernandes and Ronaldo were taken off with the scores level. 6/10

Cristiano Ronaldo:¬†Described by Gary Neville as the ultimate penalty box poacher on Monday and showed why within 15 minutes here. Held his run superbly to avoid drifting offside before prodding between the goalkeeper‚Äôs legs with a side-footed half volley. Always a threat when dragging centre-backs this way and that, though too often Man Utd’s ball carriers were too slow in both mind and action to capitalise.

Surprisingly lacked top-end pace when caught by a retreating defender when through on goal after the break. Began to fade as the contest wore on and became an increasingly peripheral figure. On this evening’s evidence, Solskjaer will have to manage Ronaldo carefully to avoid burnout and ensure the Portuguese icon is at the peak of his powers when it matters most. Replaced by Lingard with 20 minutes remaining.¬†7/10

Substitutes:

Diogo Dalot (On for Sancho, 37m): Solid and encouraging display from the Portuguese right-back when drafted in in unexpected circumstances. 7/10

Raphael Varane (On for Van de Beek, 46m): Half-time substitution as Solskjaer switched to three at the back. Slotted in between Maguire and Lindelof and made several key contributions in the air. Beaten to the ball by Ngamaleu at the near post for the equaliser. 6/10

Jesse Lingard (On for Ronaldo, 72m): Lively cameo but played a blind pass back to De Gea in the final minute that proved pivotal. 4/10

Nemanja Matic (On for Fernandes, 72m): 6/10

Anthony Martial (On for Fred, 89m): N/A

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