Home Champions League Man Utd lost despite taking a 3-0 lead

Man Utd lost despite taking a 3-0 lead

by Gabriele Marcotti
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Despite scoring three goals, Manchester United suffered a 3-4 reverse against Copenhagen following Marcus Rashford’s red card in the fourth round of the Champions League Group A.

This third loss in four matches sees Manchester United drop to the bottom of Group A with three points. They were leading by two goals in the first half, but Marcus Rashford’s controversial red card turned the game in favor of the Danish representatives. Copenhagen then scored two quick goals in injury time of the first half to level the score. In the second half, Manchester United again took the lead, but the home team quickly scored two goals to seal the victory.

Man Utd started dreamily when forward Rasmus Hojlund opened the scoring in the third minute. Right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka played a penetrating pass to Scott McTominay, who sprinted down the right side of the penalty area. The Scottish international delivered a perfect cross, allowing Hojlund to easily tap the ball into the empty net, giving the Danish forward a goal against his homeland team.

The visitors continued to create opportunities in the 28th minute when Bruno Fernandes initiated a counter-attack and passed to Alejandro Garnacho, who rushed down the left side of the penalty area. The goalkeeper parried the Argentine midfielder’s left-footed shot, but Hojlund was there to slot the ball into the net, making it 2-0. This marked the first time this season that Man Utd led an opponent by a two-goal margin, considering both the Premier League and the Champions League.

During the match, the home fans displayed banners reading, “Your Theatre is a Nightmare,” mocking Old Trafford’s nickname, “The Theatre of Dreams.” Manchester United players might have felt like they were in a dream at Old Trafford, but the passionate Parken Stadium crowd brought them back to reality, creating a nightmare in Denmark.

The nightmare for the away team began in the 42nd minute when Lithuanian referee Donatas Rumsas signaled for a VAR review and went to the sidelines to watch a replay. Forward Marcus Rashford accidentally stepped on the ankle of 20-year-old defender Elias Jelert while attempting to shield the ball. Rumsas wasted no time in issuing a straight red card, sending Rashford off the field.

This red card sparked controversy, with former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher stating on social media, “Rashford can’t possibly deserve a red card. I hate the slow-motion replays that make the situation look much worse.” However, The Guardian argued that Rashford “wasn’t deliberate but reckless and put his opponent in danger.”

During Copenhagen’s subsequent free-kick, midfielder Bruno Fernandes nearly scored an own goal with a header that hit the crossbar. This incident further fueled the crowd’s enthusiasm as they continued to applaud, cheer, and sing from the stands.

The first half was extended by 13 minutes due to health issues among the fans in the stadium, leading to two stoppages in the game. Copenhagen took full advantage of this time to score two quick goals. In the 45th minute, right-back Peter Ankersen crossed from the right to the second post for Diogo Goncalves. The Portuguese midfielder volleyed the ball, and it inadvertently turned into an excellent cross for Mohamed Elyounoussi to slot into the far corner, leveling the score at 2-2.

Copenhagen’s second goal sparked even more controversy as Goncalves shielded the ball in the away team’s penalty area and bounced off defender Harry Maguire’s hand. At the time, Maguire was reaching out to grab Goncalves. Referee Rumsas still decided to award a penalty despite strong protests from the English defender, and VAR did not intervene. From the penalty spot, Goncalves confidently slotted the ball into the left corner, moving Copenhagen ahead 3-2.

The situation where Goncalves scored the penalty to level the score at 2-2 for Copenhagen.

Copenhagen’s spirit was high, but a 10-minute halftime break helped the away team regain composure. Manager Erik ten Hag also introduced defensive midfielder Sofyan Amrabat in place of Christian Eriksen to add more steel to the midfield. Manchester United even managed to take the lead once again, in a controversial situation.

Polish VAR official Tomasz Kwiatkowski called referee Rumsas to review an incident where the ball struck the hand of defender Lukas Lerager in Copenhagen’s penalty area. In this play, Lerager jumps and turns his face away from the ball before being headed by Maguire. The referee awarded a penalty to Manchester United, and Fernandes confidently scored from the penalty spot, making it 3-2.

Maguire was also involved in a handball incident, and later, Lerager committed a similar offense. In the 83rd minute, midfielder Rasmus Falk delivered a cross from the left to the second post for Lerager to head into the net, equalizing the score at 3-3. The home team’s defenders urged their teammates to quickly get the ball back to midfield to try and score another goal.

Manchester United’s nightmare continued four minutes later, with Maguire failing to clear the ball far enough. The ball reached Roony Bardghji on the right side of the penalty area, and he volleyed it into the near corner, beyond the reach of Onana. The Parken captain once again ignited the crowd, while Manchester United players were left in despair.

This victory lifted Copenhagen to third place in Group A with four points, equal to Galatasaray but with a worse goal difference. Manchester United is one point behind both teams, giving them a chance to progress. They will face Galatasaray in Istanbul in the remaining two matches and then host Bayern at Old Trafford.

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