Manchester United’s hopes of progressing from their Champions League group are hanging by a thread after the Red Devils lost 4-3 to Copenhagen on Wednesday in a chaotic match.
Rasmus Hojlund had netted twice early on, but a red card for Marcus Rashford altered the dynamic of the game, with Copenhagen getting back on level terms before half-time. Bruno Fernandes restored United's advantage after the break, but two late goals from the opposition meant the night ended in disaster for the Red Devils.
United started the game in empathic style, with the visitors netting after just three minutes. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Scott McTominay combined down the right with the latter bursting into the box and centred the ball for a graciously waiting Hojlund to tap in.
It was a goal that breathed a sense of confidence and assurance into United, while simultaneously stifling a Copenhagen side who had looked so threatening when the side met two weeks ago. Erik ten Hag’s men played with a freedom and intricacy rarely seen this season, orchestrated by the impressive midfield pairing of McTominay and Christian Eriksen.
Even four separate first-half pauses - for a pitch invader, substitution, medical emergency in the crowd and a disturbance among the home fans - didn’t even stymie United’s dominance. Hojlund’s second only underlined the Red Devils’ excellent start, as Fernandes released Alejandro Garnacho, who sprinted clear of the Copenhagen defence and shot at goal. Kamil Grabara palmed it wide, only for the onrushing Hojlund to pop up and easily slot in a fifth Champions League goal of the campaign.
The young Dane twice went close to grabbing his hat-trick in the first half, while Harry Maguire forced Grabara into a smart save from a header. But the game changed on a reckless moment from Rashford in the latter stages of the first half, as he caught Elias Jelert on the ankle and was rightly shown a red card after a lengthy VAR check.
Suddenly the game switched and Copenhagen were in the ascendancy, with Fernandes turning a Diogo Goncalves free-kick onto his own crossbar, before Mohamed Elyounoussi got on the scoresheet for Copenhagen, after he side-footed the ball through the legs of Raphael Varane and beyond Andre Onana.
In the 13 added-on minutes at the end of a truly remarkable first half, Copenhagen managed to get back on level terms when Maguire inadvertently handled the ball in the box, and a penalty was awarded. Goncalves stood up and confidently stroked the ball past Onana, two weeks on from his heroic save from the spot at Old Trafford.
United set up in a disciplined 4-4-1 shape after the break, with all 10 players sitting behind the ball and looking to counter in possession. The Red Devils had to deal with shots from Denis Vavro and Goncalves, but Copenhagen struggled to find chances in behind the United defence.
And United’s dogged organisation paid off as they earned a second-half penalty after Vavro handled from Maguire’s point-blank header. Fernandes stroked the ball home and looked to have given United a vital win.
Yet, Copenhagen responded well and netted a sixth goal of the night in the 83rd minute as Lukas Lerager broke free of Diogo Dalot at the back post and placed the ball past Onana.
That wasn’t the end of the scoring with the hosts incredibly grabbing a winner soon after. Sloppy defensive play from United handed Copenhagen possession in the final third, and when the ball broke to Roony Bardghji in the box, he powered his shot into the goal, to the joy of the majority inside the Parken Stadium.
The result means United are bottom after four games in Group A and face an uphill battle to qualify for the knockout stages. Here's how we rated the players from an incredible game in Denmark...