Cristiano Ronaldo's last-gasp equaliser at Atalanta left 'big critic' Paul Merson speechless as he admits he 'wasn't sure' about his return to Man United... but Arsenal legend warns draw is 'just covering over the cracks'

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Cristiano Ronaldo's last-gasp equaliser at Atalanta left 'big critic' Paul Merson speechless as he admits he 'wasn't sure' about his return to Man United... but Arsenal legend warns draw is 'just covering over the cracks'

  • Cristiano Ronaldo fired home twice to seal a point for Man United at Atalanta
  • Paul Merson described Cristiano Ronaldo’s two goals as ‘phenomenal’ 
  • Ex-Arsenal star Merson claimed he was ‘lost for words’ after Ronaldo's display
  • But Merson believes that Ronaldo’s prowess is just ‘covering over the cracks'

Paul Merson has admitted he was ‘lost for words’ after Cristiano Ronaldo’s stunning performance for Manchester United in their Champions League group win over Atalanta on Tuesday night.

After watching the Portuguese star fire two home to almost single-handedly save United from defeat by Atalanta, Merson claimed that Ronaldo’s eleventh-hour volley to secure a 2-2 draw for United was ‘one of the best finishes of all-time,’ but warned that the result is ‘just another Polyfilla one.’

While Merson was keen to sing Ronaldo’s praises, the Arsenal legend admitted that he was previously a ‘big critic’ who was uncertain about the 36-year-old’s return to Manchester.

Cristiano Ronaldo's last-gasp equaliser at Atalanta left 'big critic' Paul Merson speechless

Cristiano Ronaldo's last-gasp equaliser at Atalanta left 'big critic' Paul Merson speechless

Cristiano Ronaldo's last-gasp equaliser at Atalanta left 'big critic' Paul Merson speechless

Atalanta would have secured win over the Premier League giants had it not been for Ronaldo

Atalanta would have secured win over the Premier League giants had it not been for Ronaldo

'I was one of the big critics. I was one who wasn't sure about him coming back,' he told Sky Sports.

'But if you give him chances, he will score goals. Thirty-six or 46, it doesn't make any difference, he will finish.' 

Fellow pundit Rio Ferdinand insisted Ronaldo's end product justifies his value to United while Merson added: ‘If you took away his two goals tonight, he's a two out of 10. But his two goals are phenomenal and I'm lost for words.

Merson has admitted he was ‘lost for words’ after Ronaldo’s stunning performance

Merson has admitted he was ‘lost for words’ after Ronaldo’s stunning performance

‘As long as you've got Ronaldo on the pitch, you've got a chance. They hadn't looked like scoring in a month of Sundays and then he goes and does what he's done.'

At the end of each half it looked as though Atalanta had edged the Red Devils with a 1-0 lead just before half time and 2-1 up with 90 minutes on the clock.

But two late strikes from Ronaldo in stoppage time at the end of each half showed just how impressive the United forward is under pressure, but Merson fears his heroic ability to win the game is merely a saving grace for the poorly performing team.

‘They've got a draw and they're going to qualify’ Merson said. ‘It's another Polyfilla one, it's just covering over the cracks, but it's a result.’

United struggled for large parts and Paul Pogba failed to make an impact and was subbed off

United struggled for large parts and Paul Pogba failed to make an impact and was subbed off

Merson feels the rest of the United contingent did not utilise their star performer Ronaldo and claimed the striker ‘just didn't get the service.’ 

The United line-up were defensively outplayed and visibly mediocre compared to Serie A side Atalanta for the majority of the match. World Cup winner Paul Pogba, returned to the starting line-up but he who was subbed off at 69 minutes after failing to make an impact.

The draw against Atalanta sees United sit at the top of Group F and they look likely to qualify for the next round of the Champions League. 

The Red Devils will be looking to maximise Ronaldo’s potential when they line up against fierce rivals Manchester City in the derby on Saturday at 12.30pm.

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