Maguire: Big moment for me and the team
Harry Maguire admitted it was an "amazing feeling" to mark his first Champions League outing of the season for Manchester United with the winning goal against FC Copenhagen.
The centre-back leapt to power home Christian Eriksen’s superb cross in the second half at Old Trafford to get the Reds’ Group A campaign up and running, with Andre Onana’s dramatic late penalty save ensuring we claimed an important three points.
Maguire’s passionate celebration for his goal was clear for all to see on a night when the club paid its respects to Sir Bobby Charlton with a stirring pre-match tribute.
Despite feeling United should have wrapped the game up earlier, Maguire was understandably pleased and relieved to ultimately come away with the win after Onana’s heroics, praising both the goalkeeper and Eriksen for his assist.
"The first half was nowhere near good enough," Maguire told us. "We spoke about it at half-time and the second half was a lot better – we looked comfortable, we played with a big tempo, a big intensity, and we should have scored three, four or five goals with the amount of chances we created and the talent we have at the top end of the pitch.
"It was an amazing ball [from Eriksen]. It was really tough to get on the end of something from a corner tonight – the big centre-half kept heading them all away. But it was a second phase, it was nice and I knew I had the beating of the man who was picking me up.
"And it was just about the delivery, which made it easy for me to head it in. I just knew I had to hit the target from so close. It was an amazing feeling to score in front of the Stretford End in the Champions League and it was a big moment for myself, but more importantly, a big moment for the team."
Onana kept out Jordan Larsson’s stoppage-time spot-kick after Scott McTominay was penalised for a foot-high tackle in the box, a debatable decision that was confirmed after a lengthy VAR check.
"You know if you don’t score that goal, they can have one opportunity,” Maguire reflected. “But honestly, I couldn’t believe it when the referee gave a penalty. It was an incredibly soft one to give away – I actually don’t think he [McTominay] touched him in the end. But it was a big save, a big moment by a big goalkeeper and he deserves that."
On Onana, Maguire continued: “Playing for this club, there's ups and downs and when you win everybody's on top of the world, and when you lose there's a crisis and it's always someone's fault. Andre is a big personality and he'll get used to it.
“He's going to be a big player for this club. It's a short career that he’s had until now and of course there’s been a lot of scrutiny. But we've been giving him far too much to deal with as a defence.
“So I know it's a big moment for him. And it’s not only a penalty save, it's a really high-standard penalty save. It's a great save. I'm really pleased for him.”
Before kick-off, Erik ten Hag followed a piper onto the pitch to lay a wreath in the centre circle as the 73,000 fans inside the stadium firstly gave a rousing applause for Sir Bobby and then observed a poignant minute’s silence. There was also a wreath on Sir Bobby’s seat in the directors’ box.
"I thought it was an amazing tribute and rightly so," said Maguire. "He deserves it and his family deserve it. It’s been a really sad few days for everybody involved at this club, and I'm really happy and proud of the way the club has dealt with it.
"The fans tonight showed great respect and the tribute definitely was amazing. Our thoughts are with his family and his loved ones and we'll remember him."
Maguire scored his first goal of the campaign on his sixth appearance, having kept his place in Ten Hag’s side following the win over Sheffield United on Saturday, and is now eyeing the Manchester derby this weekend.
"I'm just really happy to help the team and to contribute to the team winning football matches," the 30-year-old added. "I've been professional over the last year or so. It's been tough for me not playing as much as I have done it throughout my career. So it's been different.
"But this is football and playing for the big clubs, you have big competition. We have a lot of competition at centre-back and some top-quality players – I do believe that. So I know it's a really important part of the season for me, but it's only a start. I'm ready now to kick on to help the team and I'm looking forward to Sunday.”