FC Copenhagen 4 Manchester United 3

Wednesday 08 November 2023 22:39

Manchester United fell to an agonising defeat in Denmark on Wednesday evening, in a game that turned on a first-half red card for Marcus Rashford.

United looked to have the game firmly under control after Rasmus Hojlund struck twice in the opening half hour, but when Rashford was dismissed by referee Donatas Rumsas following a VAR review, the dynamics shifted rapidly.

A goal from Mohamed Elyounoussi and a penalty from Diogo Goncalves levelled the score before half-time, and re-energised the home crowd.

Bruno Fernandes restored our lead from the spot with just over 20 minutes to go, but Copenhagen capitalised on their extra man with two goals in the final 10 minutes through Lukas Lerager and Roony Bardghji, condemning 10-man United to a heartbreaking third loss of the group stage.
Hojlund returned to haunt his former club with two first-half goals.
The Reds had made mincemeat of Parken's self-styled intimidating atmosphere in the game's opening minutes, when they unfurled a wonderful first attacking move of the game. 
The back-four and Andre Onana kept the ball for what seemed like an eternity, before Diogo Dalot broke the press with a purposeful run forward and a smart pass to Bruno Fernandes in midfield. A long, crossfield ball from the Portuguese and a sublime first touch by the returning Rashford enabled Aaron Wan-Bissaka to find Scott McTominay's midfield run inside the penalty area. The Scotland international had yards of space, such was the speed of the previous few passes, and had the simple task of picking out Hojlund, completely free at the back post. One-nil.
United were in complete control and, on 28 minutes, Hojlund had another. Harry Maguire headed clear and Fernandes sent Alejandro Garnacho racing in on Copenhagen's goal. Grabara got down to save, but could only palm the ball to the young Dane, who gleefully tapped home. The Reds were cruising.
Hojlund could easily have had a hat-trick – there were two great further chances before the 40-minute mark, but the second would not have counted even if Rasmus could have converted. 
Play was pulled back for a retrospective VAR check which climaxed with a very harsh red card for Rashford's foul on Elias Jelert. The pain was just starting: minutes later, Elyounoussi swept home Goncalves's volleyed cross. And then, just before the end of 13 minutes of added time – calculated due to two medical emergencies in the crowd – the referee awarded a penalty when the ball was kicked against Harry Maguire's arm from barely a yard away.

Goncalves made no mistake from the spot, and the hosts headed into the break level, with a man's advantage, after being completely outplayed for the majority of the first period. 
Goncalves sends Onana the wrong way to make it 2-2 before the break.
United started the second half well, despite the numerical disadvantage, with controlled possession, but as the hour mark approached, the hosts began to impart more pressure.
Copenhagen gradually started to monopolise the ball for lengthy spells within the final third, but were initially restricted to harmless long shots that were either easily saved by Onana (Claesson) or blazed over the bar (Bardghji).
Then, midway through the half, the Reds received a timely slice of luck, as Copenhagen's Lerager was adjudged to have made a similar arm movement to the one that Maguire had been punished for in the first half. As then, the referee was summoned to the side of the pitch and, after reviewing video footage, awarded the Reds a penalty of our own. After an interminable wait, and whistles and boos from behind the goal, Fernandes drilled his penalty high into the net.
Bruno celebrates after making it 3-2 from the spot.
McTominay had a chance to extend the lead when Fernandes's pass located him on the edge of the area, but the pass was slightly behind him, and the midfielder's shot sailed over. 
But perhaps unsurprisingly, in a game full of stinging twists, United were made to pay when Lerager redeemed his earlier error by sneaking beyond Dalot at the back post to squeeze the ball past Onana.
Four minutes later, there was further heartbreak, when the ball dropped inside the area to teenage substitute Bardghji, who smashed the game's decisive goal past the unfortunate Onana.
The 10 men fought valiantly until the end, as all evening, but it was not to be, and the Reds' Champions League hopes will fall on the final two matches of the group stage.
A 10-man United were left crestfallen come full-time, after a performance that had started so positively.

FC Copenhagen: 
Grabara; Ankersen (Sorensen 70), Vavro (Boilesen 78), Diks, Jelert; Lerager, Falk, Diogo Goncalves (Oskarsson 70); Elyounoussi (Bardghji 63), Claesson (c), Achouri (Larsson 78).

Unused subs: Sander, Dithmer, Tanlongo, Babacar, Lund, O. Hojlund, Froholdt.

Goals: Elyounoussi 45, Goncalves (pen) 45+9, Lerager 83, Bardghji 87.

Bookings: Vavro.

United: Onana; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Evans (Varane 16), Dalot; McTominay, Eriksen (Amrabat 45); Rashford, Fernandes (c), Garnacho; Hojlund (Mount 84).

Unused subs: Bayindir, Heaton, Lindelof, Reguilon, Hannibal, Antony, Forson, Pellistri, Martial.

Goals: Hojlund 3, 28, Fernandes (pen) 69.

Bookings: Maguire.

Red card: