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FC Copenhagen 4-3 Man Utd: Marcus Rashford sees red as Erik ten Hag's side slump to defeat and foot of group

Match report as Man Utd slump to stunning 4-3 defeat in Copenhagen; Rasmus Hojlund scored twice before Marcus Rashford was sent off, with the hosts levelling shortly after; Bruno Fernandes put United back in front before Lukas Lerager and Roony Bardghji's late goals sealed famous win

Marcus Rashford
Image: Marcus Rashford was given a straight red card when Man Utd led 2-0

Manchester United's Champions League hopes are in tatters after they twice threw away leads before 17-year-old Roony Bardghji's late winner saw Erik ten Hag's side slump to a 4-3 defeat in Copenhagen.

United are now bottom of Group A and, with Bayern Munich already guaranteed to finish top after beating Galatasaray on Wednesday, the Premier League side face a three-way battle with the Turkish outfit and Copenhagen for a place in the knockout stages.

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Mark Ogden was highly critical of Manchester United following their 4-3 defeat at the hands of Copenhagen in the Champions League.

A defeat in Istanbul against Galatasaray - a team they have never beaten away from home in the Champions League - on November 29 will see United exit at the group stage. Even if they win that game, United may also need a result against Bayern in their final group match to qualify.

It all started so well for United, who were 2-0 up after 28 minutes thanks to two close-range finishes from Rasmus Hojlund on his return to his former club.

But Marcus Rashford's red card for a late tackle following a VAR review precipitated a collapse from United, who conceded goals from Mohamed Elyounoussi and Diogo Goncalves to find themselves level at half-time.

Bruno Fernandes put United back in front with a controversial penalty but United crumbled yet again, with Lukas Lerager scoring an equaliser in the 83rd minute before Bardghji announced himself to the world by scoring a dramatic winner four minutes later.

Player ratings

FC Copenhagen: Grabara (5), Ankersen (6), Vavro (5), Diks (6), Jelert (6), Lerager (7), Falk (7), Goncalves (8), Elyounoussi (7), Claesson (7), Achouri (6).

Subs: Bardghji (8), Oskarsson (6), Sorensen (6), Larsson (6), Boilesen (6).

Man Utd: Onana (6), Wan-Bissaka (6), Maguire (5), Evans (6), Dalot (5), McTominay (6), Eriksen (6), Rashford (5), Fernandes (8), Garnacho (7), Hojlund (8).

Subs: Varane (5), Amrabat (5), Mount (n/a).

Player of the match: Diogo Goncalves

How United threw it away twice in Denmark

Harry Maguire
Image: Harry Maguire reacts as Man Utd slump to their third defeat in four Champions League games

After back-to-back 3-0 home defeats last week, United had eased the pressure on themselves and their beleaguered manager, Ten Hag, with a gritty 1-0 win at Fulham on Saturday.

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With eight defeats already to their name this season, United needed to use that result to kickstart their spluttering campaign. Instead, they were the ones that fell victim to a dramatic late strike, while their defence shipped three or more goals in a match for the seventh time this season.

Team news

  • Man Utd made just one change from the win over Fulham, with Marcus Rashford returning in place of Antony.
  • Copenhagen made three changes, with Diogo Goncalves, Viktor Claesson and Mohamed Elyounoussi replacing Oscar Hojlund, Andreas Cornelius and Roony Bardghji.

Ten Hag will surely wonder what could have been, with United ahead after just three minutes after Hojlund tapped in Scott McTominay’s cross at the end of a well-worked move.

Rasmus Hojlund scored for Manchester United
Image: Rasmus Hojlund scored twice for Man Utd inside the first 28 minutes

United were coasting after the Denmark international scored again when Alejandro Garnacho’s shot was parried in his direction, but Rashford’s fateful stamp on Elias Jelert changed the course of the match - and potentially United’s season.

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Tom Cleverley reacts to the news that Marcus Rashford has been sent off for Manchester United before Copenhagen pulled one back to make it 2-1 in their Champions League encounter

The forward - recalled to the side following injury - inadvertently caught the Copenhagen defender on the ankle as he looked to protect the ball and was dismissed following a VAR review.

United almost conceded immediately when Fernandes flicked the resulting free-kick onto his own crossbar, but it didn’t take long for Copenhagen to halve the deficit as Elyounoussi poked home Goncalves’ pull back.

The Portuguese midfielder then scored from the spot after Maguire was penalised for handball, with both of the hosts’ goals coming amid 13 minutes of stoppage time due to a medical emergency in the crowd.

United reasserted some control after half-time and went back in front in debatable circumstances, with Lerager penalised for handball following another VAR check despite the ball hitting him from a minimal distance and appearing to deflect onto him via Maguire’s hand.

Fernandes grabbed the opportunity emphatically and looked to have scored his fourth winning goal of the season - only for United’s resistance to disintegrate at the end of the half yet again.

Lerager earned his redemption after Diogo Dalot lost his simple run at the back post before Bardghji emerged from the bench to score his 10th goal of a breakout season - and heap the pressure back upon Ten Hag’s shoulders.

Why Rashford was sent off

Whether Rashford intended to connect with Elias Jelert or not is irrelevant in this scenario. The intent of Rashford's action does not matter, only the action, an area of the laws that is even more strictly applied in Europe.

Granted, given Rashford is seemingly not making a tackle, and only trying to shield the ball, he is unlucky, but the laws have technically been adhered to in this instance, and Manchester United shouldn't be expecting any form of apology.

UEFA also initially reported on their website that Rashford was dismissed for catching Jelert with his arm, but that was later corrected.

Ten Hag: We played 'so good'

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Erik ten Hag: So many decisions against us - it will turn in our favour

Ten Hag described United's performance as "so good" and pinned the blame for yet another defeat on refereeing decisions.

Asked to reflect on the result, he told TNT Sports: "Do you have one hour? We played very good until the red card, but the red card changes everything.

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Following Manchester United's 4-3 loss at Copenhagen, The Telegraph's Sam Wallace and The Daily Mail's Riath Al-Samarrai debate whether Erik ten Hag's job is under pressure at Old Trafford

"We conceded two goals that never should count. That’s very disappointing. The first is offside - there is a player in front of Onana. The second, what can he do?

"We have to deal with many decisions against us but that’s how it is. I’m sure it will turn. The season is long."

Ten Hag was also unhappy with the call to dismiss Rashford, saying: "It was a very harsh decision. He was going for the ball and the review was over but then he went to the screen. Also, I think the referee was not sure."

The Dutchman added: "I have seen a lot of positives from the game but in the end we probably lost some focus. It’s always hard when you have to play so long with 10 men. We fought and we ran.

"With 10, we were controlling the game. We fought so hard and played so good."

Analysis: Fragile United plumb new depths

Sky Sports' Joe Shread:

We are in November and Manchester United have lost more than 50 per cent of their matches this season. The last time they experienced that many defeats in their first 17 games of a season was in 1973/74 - the last time they were relegated.

No one is suggesting United will repeat that nightmare - not yet, anyway - but their current form is staggeringly bad.

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Tom Cleverley gives his reaction after 10-player Manchester United lost 4-3 at Copenhagen, leaving them bottom of their Champions League group

They have conceded 30 goals in just 17 games across all competitions. Their last four matches alone have seen them ship 10 goals, while only Celtic and Antwerp have conceded more than them in the Champions League this season.

It’s hard to criticise Ten Hag for Rashford and Maguire’s first-half indiscretions as both carried more than a hint of misfortune, even if the decisions were correct.

But the manager has to bear responsibility for the way his side reacted. Every time Copenhagen - a side that had failed to score in eight of their last 10 matches against English sides - applied any pressure, United’s defence disintegrated.

The sheer amount of goals United have conceded shows that propensity to collapse is a common theme. Equally damning is the fact that, after losing two out of two away from home in the Champions League as United boss, Ten Hag has now lost more matches on the road in the competition than he did across 16 games with Ajax.

At this rate, United and Ten Hag may not even end up in the Europa League.

Opta stats: Only Burnley outdoing Man Utd

  • United lost a Champions League match in which they led by 2+ goals for the very first time. In all competitions, this was their first defeat after taking a two-goal lead since September 2014, when they lost a Premier League game 5-3 to Leicester.
  • Among Premier League sides, only Burnley (10) have lost more games in all competitions than United (9) this season. Nine defeats is their most in their opening 17 matches of a season since 1973-74 (also 9) under Tommy Docherty.
  • Marcus Rashford was given only his second red card in 374 United appearances in all competitions, and first since September 2018 vs Burnley.
  • Jonny Evans made his first Champions League appearance for United since December 2013 vs Shakhtar Donetsk, nine years and 333 days ago. The only player to have a longer gap between games played for the same English club in the competition is Cristiano Ronaldo, also for United (12y 110d).

Man Utd's remaining Champions League fixtures

November 29: Galatasaray (A) - kick-off 5.45pm

December 12: Bayern Munich (H) - kick-off 8pm

What's next?

Manchester United return to Premier League action on Saturday when they welcome Luton to Old Trafford - kick-off 3pm.

Erik ten Hag's side then travel to Everton on November 26, live on Sky Sports' Super Sunday - kick-off 4.30pm.

Up next for FC Copenhagen is a home match against Brondby in the Danish Superliga on Sunday - kick-off 11am.

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