By Andy SCOTT – Japan Today
Cristiano Ronaldo scored another late goal to rescue Manchester United in the Champions League on Tuesday, as his former club Juventus and Bayern Munich both secured qualification for the last 16 with two group games to spare.
Ronaldo fired in from the edge of the box a minute into injury time to snatch United a 2-2 draw with Atalanta in Italy and keep them on course to qualify from Group F.
The competition’s all-time top scorer had earlier cancelled out Josip Ilicic’s opener to equalise at the end of a slick team move in first-half stoppage time.
However, having lost Raphael Varane to injury before that, United went behind again in the 56th minute when Duvan Zapata ran through, evading Harry Maguire before slotting in.
The goal was initially disallowed for offside before being given after a VAR review, but Ronaldo thwarted the hosts again with his ninth goal in 11 appearances since returning to Old Trafford and his record-extending 139th goal in the competition.
“We believed until the end. I helped my team get one point,” said Ronaldo. “We never give up, it’s a good result for us I think.”
The 36-year-old also scored an injury-time winner when United came from behind to beat Villarreal 2-1 in September and headed in late on to complete a comeback from 2-0 down to defeat Atalanta 3-2 at home two weeks ago.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are level on seven points atop the group with Villarreal, who beat Swiss champions Young Boys 2-0 in Spain with Etienne Capoue scoring a first-half opener and then setting up Arnaut Danjuma to clinch the win late on.
Captain Paulo Dybala’s brace helped Juventus to a 4-2 win over Zenit Saint Petersburg in Turin as they kept up their 100 percent record in Group H to secure a last-16 place.
Dybala’s early opener was cancelled out when Leonardo Bonucci headed into his own net, but the Argentine international restored Juve’s lead just before the hour, netting a penalty which he had initially missed before being granted a retake.
Federico Chiesa and Alvaro Morata added further goals for Massimiliano Allegri’s team before Sardar Azmoun pulled one back in stoppage time.
Juve are three points clear of reigning European champions Chelsea, who beat Malmo 1-0 in Sweden with a second-half Hakim Ziyech goal.
Thomas Tuchel’s side, who were again without Romelu Lukaku, need one more point to be certain of advancing.
Robert Lewandowski netted a hat-trick as Bayern steamrollered Benfica 5-2 in Germany to make it four wins from four in Group E, securing their progress and leaving them requiring a single point to clinch first place.
Lewandowski nodded in the opener and then set up Serge Gnabry for a cheeky back-heel to make it two.
Morato headed Benfica back into the game and Lewandowski then had a penalty saved right on half-time after a Lucas Verissimo handball.
However Leroy Sane made it 3-1 just after the restart and Lewandowski added two more delightful finishes either side of a consolation effort from visiting substitute Darwin Nunez.
It was an eventful night for Lewandowski on his 100th Champions League appearance. He has now scored 81 times in the competition — only Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have scored more.
“I never thought I would have so many games with so many goals,” Lewandowski told Amazon.
Meanwhile managerless Barcelona boosted their qualification hopes, Ansu Fati’s goal in Ukraine securing a second straight 1-0 win over Dynamo Kiev to lift them up to second above Benfica.
Red Bull Salzburg could have sealed progress from Group G but instead the Austrians went down 2-1 to Wolfsburg in Germany.
Ridle Baku and Lukas Nmecha scored for Wolfsburg either side of a Maximilian Woeber free-kick.
Lille and Wolfsburg are now just two points behind group leaders Salzburg after the French side came from behind to win 2-1 at Sevilla.
Lucas Ocampos gave Sevilla the lead but Jonathan David levelled with a penalty and Jonathan Ikone secured Lille’s first win in 11 Champions League games.