In a shocking turn of events, Manchester United finds themselves on the verge of an early exit from the Champions League after squandering a 2-0 lead and losing 4-3 to FC Copenhagen. The defeat came at the hands of former player Rasmus Hojlund, who scored twice within the first half-hour of the match. However, the turning point came with Marcus Rashford’s red card, which not only shifted the momentum of the game but potentially sealed United’s fate with their third loss in Group A.
Copenhagen capitalized on the situation, with Mohamed Elyounoussi and Diogo Goncalves equalizing from the penalty spot before halftime. Although Bruno Fernandes briefly put United back in the lead with a penalty, two late goals from Lukas Lerager and 17-year-old Roony Bardghji secured Copenhagen’s first Champions League victory since 2016. This defeat leaves United at the bottom of the group, one point behind Galatasaray and Copenhagen, with two games remaining. The pressure on United boss Erik ten Hag continues to mount as their disappointing start to the season persists in both the Premier League and Champions League.
Despite an impressive performance in the opening half-hour, Rashford’s dismissal proved to be a pivotal moment that changed the course of the match. Copenhagen’s manager, Jacob Neestrup, had promised an atmosphere “100 times” more intense than the one experienced at Old Trafford two weeks ago, but Hojlund’s early goals quickly silenced the crowd.
The Danish striker, who is currently the joint top scorer in this season’s Champions League with five goals in four games, effortlessly tapped in Scott McTominay’s cross to open the scoring. Hojlund doubled his tally when Kamil Grabara parried Alejandro Garnacho’s initial shot, leaving him with a simple finish. The momentum shifted dramatically as Rashford’s studs accidentally caught Elias Jelert, resulting in a red card following a VAR review. Copenhagen took advantage of the free-kick awarded, with Elyounoussi converting Goncalves’ clever assist to equalize. The first half was extended by 13 minutes due to a medical emergency in the stands, and Goncalves made no mistake from the penalty spot, giving Copenhagen the lead just before halftime.
United received a lifeline in the second half when VAR correctly penalized Denis Vavro for a handball, allowing Fernandes to score a penalty. However, United’s hopes of securing three points were dashed when Lerager capitalized on Diogo Dalot’s error to level the score. In a fairytale ending for Copenhagen, substitute Bardghji sealed their victory with a powerful volley after Harry Maguire failed to clear a cross into the box. Manchester United now faces an uphill battle as they travel to Galatasaray in three weeks’ time before hosting group leaders Bayern Munich.