Manchester United’s days in the 2023/2024 Seasons have gone from bad to worse, after Erik ten Hag’s Red Devils hit rock bottom of Group A in the UEFA Champions League with their Matchday 4 loss to then-bottom of Group A side F.C. Copenhagen at Telia Parken. The seven-goal thriller defeat to the Danish Superliga side meant United had lost for the ninth time in 17 matches across all competitions, and it will be an uphill battle for them to qualify for the next round of the European club football competition in the remaining two Matchdays, especially when they will be without last season’s top scorer Marcus Rashford, due to his red card last night.
United Led Early But Rashford’s Send Off Changed the Game
United earned their first victory in this season’s Champions League a fortnight ago when they defeated F.C. Copenhagen 1-0 at Old Trafford, thanks to Harry Maguire’s winning goal and André Onana’s last-minute penalty save. The Red Devils followed up with a visit to Copenhagen, Denmark, against then-bottom of Group A team for the returning leg of this Champions League fixture, with ten Hag making only one replacement from his starting 11 that beat Fulham in the league last weekend, whereas Jacob Neestrup opting for an unchanged first team against United from the last time the team met them for a chance to uplift themselves from the bottom of Group A.
Fortune may seem to have favoured the 13-time Premier League winners on Matchday 4 of the Champions League, following new summer signing Rasmus Højlund’s early brace in the game. The first goal saw Rashford unleashed fit-again Aaron Wan-Bissaka, before the England international pulled the ball back and found Scott McTominay in the box, who then crossed it first time for Højlund to tap in United’s opening goal. Moments before the half-hour mark, captain Bruno Fernandes started a counterattack against the home side and set up Alejandro Garnacho for a shot. The Argentine attacker’s effort was parried away by goalkeeper Kamil Grabara, but the ball fell before the path of Højlund for his fifth Champions League goal of the season.
Then came the most controversial call of the match. Rashford challenged left-back Elias Jelert for the ball possession, prompting Donatas Rumsas to check on the foul on VAR, before he decided to give the England striker his marching orders. Rashford’s second career red card in over 400 appearances for club and country gave room for F.C. Copenhagen to come back in this game, which they did by pulling one back and levelling things up in the 45th and 45+9th minutes respectively. Mohamed Elyounoussi and Diogo Gonçalves were the scorers for the home side, who converted a close-ranged effort and a penalty.
10-Man Red Devils Regained the Lead, But Copenhagen Came Back to Score Twice Again
The second half of this F.C. Copenhagen-Manchester United had more dramas in stored for spectators, as the visitors went ahead again despite being a man down in the game. Centre-back Maguire’s header touched Lukas Lerager’s arm in the penalty box, prompting the referee to award another spot kick in the match, in which Fernandes sent the keeper to the wrong way and hit it to the top left corner of the goal. The second lead for United was as far as they could go in the match, since the home side would not want to miss the opportunity to leave the bottom of Group A and mounted another comeback in the remainder of the game.
With seven minutes left in the normal playing time, United failed to clear the ball away and the F.C. Copenhagen players teased the defence with a few short passes, followed by Rasmus Falk’s delivery into the dangerous zone. Lerager then rose to the highest to slot home the equaliser, brushing off his error earlier in the game that led to Bruno’s spot kick. The home side would go on to win the match four minutes after their levelling strike, this time via Roony Bardghji. The teenager, who came on after the hour mark, had the ball fell right before him during a chaotic attacking play, and he did not hesitate to lash a volley past Onana for the winning goal.
The 4-3 score line stayed till the end of the match, meaning F.C. Copenhagen finally get their first win after four trials in the 2023/2024 UEFA Champions League Season.
Copenhagen’s tifo came true for Manchester United 👻 pic.twitter.com/ohUxlXMd2a
— B/R Football (@brfootball) November 8, 2023
Bottom of Group A with Only Three Points
F.C. Copenhagen’s triumph not only lifted them to second place from the bottom of Group A, but losing another 4-3 thriller also meant United are now the latest team to drop to the bottom of Group A after four Matchdays in the European club football competition.
The Rashford-less United will next face Süper Lig club Galatasaray S.K. and German Bundesliga 1 giants Bayern Munich at RAMS Park and Old Trafford later this month and mid December, and huge doubts are now on the team at the bottom of Group A, as to whether they are still capable of reaching the next round of the competition or even progressing into the second-tiered UEFA Europa League.
Let us know what are your thoughts about United’s performances this season thus far, and what do you think they need to do to elevate themselves from the bottom of Group A in the Champions League.
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