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Manchester United bottom of Champions League group after defeat to Copenhagen

Manchester United were beaten for the third time in four games in the UEFA Champions League group stage this season on Wednesday, as Erik ten Hag’s side coughed up not just one, but two, leads in a 4-3 defeat away to Copenhagen.

[ MORE: Champions League tables ]

The result leaves Manchester United (3 points) bottom of Group A after four games, nine points back of group winners Bayern Munich and a point back of both Galatasaray and Copenhagen in 2nd and 3rd, respectively. 17 games into the 2023-24 season (all competitions), Man United have lost more games (9) than they have won (8), and Wednesday’s defeat was their third in four games. But, things didn’t start nearly so poorly for the Red Devils…

Rasmus Hojlund wasted no time in marking his return to Copenhagen, where he spent 18 goalless months (in Danish Superliga play) before moving on to Sturm Graz and Atalanta, before this summer joining Manchester United for $92 million. The 20-year-old Denmark international opened the scoring by tapping home Scott McTominay’s stellar cross to the far post in the 3rd minute.

Just before the half-hour mark, Hojlund pounced on another poacher’s opportunity, as Alejandro Garnacho’s initial shot on goal was saved but spilled across the face of goal. Hojlund was first on the scene to slot the rebound home and double Man United’s advantage. “Home free,” their fans might have thought in that moment.

Things began to unravel rather quickly in the 42nd minute. Marcus Rashford found himself the subject of a VAR inquest after contesting a 50-50 ball against Copenhagen left back Elias Jelert. Rashford’s left foot went around the ball in an attempt to shield Jelert off the ball, but when it came down he landed on the inside of Jelert’s ankle with his studs and enough force that he was subsequently shown a red card.

Three minutes later, Copenhagen were back to 2-1 after Mohamed Elyounoussi swept a clever finish past Andre Onana. The ball was initially floated to Diogo Goncalves at the back post, but the Portuguese winger opted to square a cross in front of goal rather than go for glory himself, and Elyounoussi peeled away from two defenders just as he did so.

Eight minutes after that — a little more than halfway through stoppage time — Copenhagen were awarded a penalty kick after Goncalves’ flick appeared to come off the arm of Harry Maguire inside the penalty area. Goncalves stepped to the spot, sent Onana one way and hammered the ball low and hard the other way.

Perhaps a bit of VAR payback was given Manchester United’s way in the 68th minute, after Lukas Lerager was deemed to have handled the ball inside his own penalty area, despite the fact he was one of a number of bodies coming together in an aerial jostle to head the ball. Maguire got his head to it first and headed it down, immediately onto Lerager’s arm. Bruno Fernandes hammered the spot kick into the top corner to reclaim the visitors’ lead.

Lerager got the last laugh, though, as Copenhagen continued to press for a third goal and eventually it came from the midfielder. Rasmus Falk’s cross floated and floated until it found Lerager a couple yards off the goal line. And still, that wasn’t enough for Copenhagen.

On a night when Hojlund was supposed to be the star in all the headlines, it was 17-year-old Roony Bardghji who provided the final moment of magic to complete the comeback once again, and complete an unforgettable night in the Danish capital. Maguire headed a cross away in the 87th minute, but only cleared it as far as the Kuwait-born Sweden international. Bardghji hit a left-footed side-volley straight into the ground and just out of Onana’s reach as he desperately dove to the near post. Bardghji already has seven goals in league play this season. Wednesday’s goal was his first in the Champions League.

What’s next?

The Red Devils will face their final away fixture in the group next time out, when they head to Istanbul with a chance to exact revenge against Galatasaray on Nov. 29.

Player ratings - Copenhagen vs Manchester United

Copenhagen vs Manchester United, final score: 4-3

Goalscorers: Rasmus Hojlund (3', 28'), Mohamed Elyounoussi (45'), Diogo Goncalves (45'+9), Bruno Fernandes (69' - PK), Lukas Lerager (83'), Roony Bardghji (87')

3rd minute - GOAL - Rasmus Hojlund opens the scoring against his former club

28th minute - GOAL - Rasmus Hojlund scores again to make it 2-0

42nd minute - RED CARD - Marcus Rashford sent off after video review

45th minute - GOAL - Mohamed Elyounoussi slots home a Copenhagen lifeline

45th minute +9 - GOAL - Diogo Goncalves makes it 2-2 from penalty spot

69th minute - GOAL - Bruno Fernandes reclaims the lead from the penalty spot

83rd minute - GOAL - Lukas Lerager equalizes after giving away the penalty kick

87th minute - GOAL - Roony Bardghji smashes the late winner past Andre Onana

How to watch Copenhagen vs Manchester United live, stream link, start time

Kick off: 3pm ET, Wednesday (November 8)
How to watch: Paramount+ and TUDN USA

Copenhagen starting lineup

Grabara — Ankersen, Vavro, Diks, Jelert — Falk, Lerager, Goncalves — Elyounoussi, Claesson, Achouri

Manchester United lineup

Onana — Wan-Bissake, Maguire, Evans, Dalot — McTominay, Eriksen — Rashford, Fernandes, Garnacho — Hojlund

Focus on Copenhagen, team news

Swedish striker Viktor Claesson made a real nuisance of himself at Old Trafford last time out, while Copenhagen will also look to Rasmus Falk to dictate the tempo in midfield. Mohamed Elyounoussi may be out injured, which would be a big blow as he was brilliant at setting the press and unsettling United last time out.

Onana feels 'more confident' after win v. Fulham
Manchester United goalkeeper Andre Onana speaks with Joe Prince-Wright following the Red Devils' win over Fulham and explains why he's feeling more confident in his level of play after the win.

Focus on Manchester United, team news

Erik ten Hag is likely to stick with the same team which won at Fulham on Saturday but we could see the likes of Mason Mount, Raphael Varane and Facundo Pellistri come into the team. United still have a host of injuries with Luke Shaw, Tyrell Malacia and Lisandro Martinez all out, with Casemiro also picking up a hamstring injury which is a big blow. Jadon Sancho is still out due to disciplinary issues, while Amad Diallo is injured.