There was not much drama left when the final whistle was blown in the UEFA Champions League encounter between Copenhagen and Manchester United. A grand total of seven goals graced the occasion but it was the British side that came off worse at the end, despite going ahead 2-0 courtesy of goals from Rasmus Hojlund early in the first half.
Disaster struck then on, first through a red card given to Marcus Rashford via VAR and then through equalizing goals from Mohamed Elyounoussi and a penalty from Diogo Goncalves. The second-half redemption from Bruno Fernandes’ penalty proved short-lived as a goal from Lukas Lerager and a late winner from youngster Roony Bardghji dampened the away side’s spirits.
Here are the takeaways from the eventful night:
1. VAR Drama
When introduced, the extra referees were expected to make the game perfect and clear any errors from clutch decisions. This game was ample proof of how that is not the case at all. An argument can be made that both of the night’s penalties were given far too softly. Some fans may even rightly argue that other more deserving penalties were not given, not to mention certain offsides.
Rashford’s sending-off is the most damning evaluation of VAR-style slow-motion replays and opportune pause-plays which make things appear far worse than they were.
2. Attacking Swagger
Despite the defeat, in terms of raw attacking potential, this is the best Erik ten Hag’s men have looked going forward in several games. It is quite telling that Hojlund is now the top-scorer across all Champions League games in the group stage thus far. The act leading to Rashford’s dismissal was likewise a good offensive display.
The gaffer needs to now build on this potential and ensure that the games ahead secure promising dividends for the Red Devils.
3. Disqualification Better than EL?
United now sit unthinkably at the bottom of their group table with games against Bayern Munich and Galatasaray looking like must-wins in order to secure qualification to the next stages.
Interestingly, different results elsewhere could see the club thrust into another prolonged Europa League campaign and this is not something that supporters may get behind. The fatigue-based injury and fixture congestion towards the end of the campaign all for a title that is not regarded that highly for a club of United’s stature is already proving to be a horror show in the waiting. Which fortune will the players strive for?