Marcus Rashford’s red card played a major role in FC Copenhagen’s thrilling, qualification-damaging Champions League victory, dealing yet another serious blow to Manchester United’s already struggling season.
In a frenetic and exciting match in the Danish capital, United displayed cleverness and perseverance at times and twice appeared to have taken a significant lead before losing late to a goal by 17-year-old substitution Roony Bardghji.
Thanks to two close-range goals from Rasmus Hojlund against his local team, who knew exactly where and when he needed to be, they were leading comfortably by the halfway point of the first half.
But in the 42nd minute, the game changed due to a late challenge on Elias Jelert’s ankle by Rashford. In response, referee Donatas Rumsas was called to the pitchside monitor and immediately sent the striker a straight red card.
The home team gained the lead with goals from Mohamed Elyounoussi and Diogo Goncalves, who was given a penalty after Harry Maguire handballed, after 13 extra minutes, mostly due to an injury to United defender Jonny Evans and a medical issue in the stands. Lukas Lerager’s handball gave way to a penalty kick from Bruno Fernandes, who gave United the lead once again after the team overcame their numerical disadvantage to keep the home team at bay.
However, the home team would not be left defeated. After United failed to clear, Bardghji drove in the equaliser, and Lerager fixed his faults by scoring from the back of the net. Even though United is now bottom of Group A and has never won there, they are still in the hunt to advance, since they will first host Bayern Munich, who have already qualified.
Parken Stadium erupted in cheers after comeback victory
This season, Manchester United is committed to putting both themselves and their fans through a lot of emotion. If they had started the season with their worst start in sixty years—two straight 3-0 home losses to Manchester City and Newcastle— we might have excused most of them for thinking it was their lowest point.
That appeared to be the case when Hojlund handed them the 2-0 lead that their deliberate and accurate play demanded. At that point, the Red Devils were targeting a second straight victory—after their dramatic triumph against Fulham on Saturday— as well as a significantly improved chance to advance to the premier club tournament in Europe.
Yet, little did we know about the upcoming drama that was set to unfold in front of us all. The incident was started by Rashford, whose atrociously misplaced foot found Jelert’s ankle. This forced the referees to make a call that would ultimately hurt United. The implosion occurred at the most unsuitable moment for this weakening team.
When United lost control, anarchy ensued, and Copenhagen levelled the score thanks to a boisterous and revitalised Parken Stadium. The whistle for halftime was blown on time, but United was shaking.
Manager Erik ten Hag had his team reorganised and motivated, and for the first twenty-five minutes, the Red Devils played brilliantly. Even with an additional man on the pitch, Copenhagen had to be wary due to their tough defence and glimpses of counterattacking intent. They were successful in winning the penalty at the conclusion, and Fernandes gave them the lead again.
After everything is said and done, Ten Hag will probably use this and the corresponding one in the first half to demonstrate that his damaged side is recovering, although slowly. However, given their early-season struggles, United ultimately needs a win, which they failed to get here.
Under the circumstances, it was reasonable that they would want to retire to their box, but their defending during Copenhagen’s equaliser and winning goal left much to be desired.