Copenhagen 4-3 Man United: Danes stun 10-man Red Devils with late turnaround to leave them BOTTOM of group as teen Roony Bardghji nets winner after Marcus Rashford red changed game
They know a thing or two about fairytales here in Denmark and Rasmus Hojlund could hardly have asked for a better return to his hometown club for almost 45 minutes last night.
Two goals from the young Dane put Manchester United in full control of this Champions League match and on course for what looked like a comfortable win in Group A.
When Carlsberg did football matches, this was about as good as it got for United and Hojlund. But this wasn’t a beer commercial and it wasn’t Hans Christian Andersen either.
This is Manchester United and things rarely go to script. So when Marcus Rashford was sent off in the 43rd minute for an innocuous-looking challenge, the plot began to turn.
FC Copenhagen pulled one goal back and equalized after 13 minutes extra at the end of the first half, largely due to a medical emergency in the crowd.
Manchester United conceded four times in the Champions League match against Copenhagen
17-year-old Roony Bardghji came off the bench to score a late winner for the hosts in Denmark
This is a United team that is starting to find its feet after a very shaky start to the season. Confidence and resilience are starting to creep back into their game.
In the most difficult of circumstances, with 10 men against a resurgent FC Copenhagen, who are much better than their position in the group would suggest, they regained the lead thanks to captain Bruno Fernandes’ penalty.
But on a pretty crazy night here in Denmark, FC Copenhagen struck twice in the final minutes through skipper Lukas Leragher and substitute Roony Bardghji, leaving Ten Hag’s side with a mountain to climb to reach the knockout stages.
Copenhagen’s energetic young coach Jacob Neestrup had warned that the atmosphere at Parken Stadium would be ‘100 times’ more intense than when United won at Old Trafford a fortnight ago, and residents did their best to lighten the mood carrying banners before kick-off with United’s defeat here in 2006.
‘Your Theater of Nightmares’ declared one. Considering United’s next game is away against Galatasaray in Istanbul, there could be some competition in that regard.
Erik ten Hag made one change to the team that gave him valuable breathing space by beating Fulham on Saturday afternoon as Rashford returned from injury at the expense of Antony.
The manager’s decision to continue with Harry Maguire and Jonny Evans in central defense was understandable, but it took less than fifteen minutes before an injury to Evans brought Raphael Varane off the bench.
By then United were already a goal in the right direction and Hojlund would have liked to be a goalscorer. Copenhagen changed him from a midfielder to a striker, but he did not have the happiest of times here. In fact, he moved to Sturm Graz just 16 months after making his first-team debut for Copenhagen, with three of his 32 appearances coming off the bench.
All three of his goals for United before last night were in the Champions League, and if there was any concern that the £72million striker should have scored more, it was tempered by an acceptance that the service given to him was not great.
After three minutes this was placed on a plate. Rashford turned in a pass from Bruno Fernandes and headed the ball to Aaron Wan-Bissaka. He played in Scott McTominay who crossed for Hojlund and he couldn’t miss.
He was in goal again in the 28th minute when Denis Vavro’s poor header allowed Fernandes to send Alejandro Garnacho clear. Goalkeeper Kamil Grabara came out to block the young winger, but Hojlund followed and was hit again.
We thought the 20-year-old could have scored a hat-trick in the 40th minute when he raced through and fired a shot inches wide of the ball.
However, things were already starting to unravel for United. Play was taken back to the other side of the pitch, where VAR official Tomasz Kwiatkowski had spotted Rashford’s challenge on Elias Jelert outside the United box.
Replays showed the United player stepping over the ball and planting his studs on Jelert’s shin and left ankle, and when referee Donatas Rumsas saw this on the monitor he agreed. Red card, United with 10 men.
Diogo Goncalves’ free-kick hit the crossbar, but United’s escape was short-lived. When Peter Ankersen crossed from the right moments later, Goncalves sent the ball back across the goal for Mohamed Elyounoussi to score.
Ten Hag’s team wobbled and in the ninth minute of extra time, Maguire was penalized when Varane’s ball tapped his hand. Onana had saved United from the penalty spot at Old Trafford, but this time Goncalves sent him the wrong way.
However, we were not done yet. There was another twist and this time Maguire was involved again. His header hit Leager on the arm, not that the Copenhagen captain could do much about it.
Kwiatkowski came back in and Rumsas was back at the monitor. Same outcome. Fernandes stepped up and converted from the spot.
That should have been it but then Rasmus Falk crossed to the back post where Lerager beat Diogo Dalot to score from close range in the 82nd minute and Bardghji completed the comeback with a half-volley past Onana after Varane had given the ball away. What a night.