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Monday, December 4, 2023

5 things we learned as Manchester United lose 4-3 to Copenhagen

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Manchester United have lost 4-3 to Copenhagen. Here is a look at five things we learned from the game…

Rasmus Hojlund loves the Champions League

Rasmus Hojlund is struggling for goals in the Premier League, with none so far. In the Champions League it is a totally different matter.

The Dane had a great start on his return to his homeland with a goal from close range in the third minute after a low cross from Scott McTominay.

It was the perfect start for Manchester United, and this was Hojlund’s first goal in more than a month.

He doubled his tally before the half-hour mark, finishing off a counter-attack after a shot from Alejandro Garnacho. These early goals were the perfect way to quieten a raucous home crowd.

Hojlund now has an impressive five goals in four Champions League games and is Manchester United’s top scorer for the season.

He could have had a hat-trick before half-time and did not deserve to end up on the losing side.

F.C. Copenhagen v Manchester United: Group A - UEFA Champions League 2023/24

Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images


Manchester United lose another player to injury

It was a curious decision to see Jonny Evans selected as a starter, although not totally unexpected given that this has been a pattern over the past fortnight.

Evans lasted only 14 minutes before suffering an injury. Four-times Champions League winner Raphael Varane was brought on ahead of Victor Lindelof, as Evans replacement.

The extent of Evans injury is yet to become clear, but for now Manchester United are down to just three available centre-backs, having begun the season with five, or six if you count Luke Shaw too.

Rashford red card turned the game

Manchester United’s night was going so well, until Marcus Rashford was given a red card for a careless challenge. There was no intent on his behalf, but the replay did look painful. Of course it was VAR driving the decision.

Rashford will now miss the next game away at Galatasaray through an automatic one-game suspension.

It was a shame as Rashford had been playing well on Manchester United’s right wing, a position he rarely thrives in. He now has as many red cards as goals this season.

The sending off was the moment the game turned. United were dominant, and it gave Copenhagen a lifeline, where they pulled a goal back before half-time, and from than point you could fear the game would take a totally different direction, with the crowd lifted.

A penalty was awarded against United from handball before the break and a 2-0 lead suddenly turned to 2-2. There was no save from Andre Onana this time.

This was more proof red cards change games in the Champions League. We are still not over Nani in 2013 against Real Madrid.

Manchester United fold under pressure

At the interval, momentum was all with Copenhagen. United, reduced to 10 men, with a woeful away record, well, you feared for them.

The team made a change at half-time to bring on Sofyan Amrabat for Christian Eriksen and wrestled back control of the match, dominating possession, and then something really strange happened – a VAR decision went in our favour.

A soft handball penalty was awarded, but it cancelled out the one at the other end. Captain Bruno Fernandes stepped up to fire the ball into the top corner and put Manchester United 3-2 up.

But just like at home to Galatasaray, Manchester United could not hold onto the lead, crumbling to defeat.

United blew the lead by conceding two late goals and losing 4-3, with simple defensive errors. This was a chance for the team to prove their mettle under pressure, and they folded.

Manchester United are bottom of the group

As expected, Bayern Munich beat Galatasaray in Germany and secured their own qualification. This is a little bit of good news – but the group does not look pretty.

Manchester United are currently bottom of the group, although, just one point behind Copenhagen and Galatasaray in second and third.

There is all to play for, United must win both remaining games to clinch qualification for the knockout phase.

We must go to Galatasaray and win, and then beat Bayern, who could field an understrength side or play with less intensity, and Old Trafford will be rocking.

There’s a possibility this may not even be enough, if Copenhagen were to win at home to Galatasaray and, improbably, win away at Bayern.

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