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Champions League group stage recap: Manchester United battle through

Manchester United ultimately went through as UEFA Champions League Group F winners, but theirs has been anything but a straightforward campaign.

All of Man. United's group stage goals

Manchester United endured a topsy-turvy UEFA Champions League group stage which begun in underwhelming fashion and took in some buccaneering moments on its way to a low-key but ultimately efficient conclusion.

Round of 16: Atlético vs Manchester United


Campaign so far

Man. United's group stage story

Group F winners: W3 D2 L1 F11 A8
Top scorer: Cristiano Ronaldo (6)

14/09: Young Boys 2-1 Manchester United (Moumi Ngamaleu 66, Siebatcheu 90+5; Ronaldo 13)
29/09: Manchester United 2-1 Villarreal (Alex Telles 60, Ronaldo 90+5; Alcácer 53)
20/10: Manchester United 3-2 Atalanta (Rashford 53, Maguire 75, Ronaldo 81; Pašalić 15, Demiral 29)
02/11: Atalanta 2-2 Manchester United (Iličić 12, Zapata 56; Ronaldo 45+1 90+1)
23/11: Villarreal 0-2 Manchester United (Ronaldo 78, Sancho 90)
08/12: Manchester United 1-1 Young Boys (Greenwood 9, Rieder 42)

Campaign in ten words: Ronaldo has brought salvation to a topsy-turvy season so far.

UEFA.com reporter's view

In the midst of a turbulent Premier League campaign, United recovered from an opening-day upset against Young Boys to stabilise their European season at least. Ralf Rangnick steadied the ship to emerge from the group stage, but how will his new methods translate to the tougher tests to come?

What we've learned

Above all, that Ronaldo still has plenty of match-defining moments in him. The evergreen forward scored in five of United's group stage games, including late winners on Matchdays 2 and 3 and a late equaliser on Matchday 4. What else? Little that United have not been grappling with for quite some time – namely how to balance their undoubted threat going forward with instability at the back and a lack of presence in midfield. Rangnick has work to do.

Fantasy star performers

Every Cristiano Ronaldo Champions League goal

Cristiano Ronaldo – 41 points
Bruno Fernandes – 32 points
Harry Maguire – 20 points

Squad changes

In: Phil Jones, Lee Grant
Out: Amad Diallo, Anthony Martial, Donny van de Beek

Clubs could register a maximum of three new eligible players prior to the knockout stage. Since 2018/19, it no longer matters whether those players have already played in the competition for another club, even for another club still in the competition.

Key stats

• Ronaldo made his 178th UEFA Champions League appearance on Matchday 2, taking him top of the all-time list.

• United had never trailed by two goals at half-time of a UEFA Champions League game prior to their Matchday 3 meeting with Atalanta; they went on to win 3-2.

• Six teenagers played for United against Young Boys on Matchday 6.