Manchester United 1, FC Copenhagen 0
Harry Maguire and Andre Onana were the Manchester United heroes as they scraped a 1-0 win against FC Copenhagen.
It was an emotional night at Old Trafford as United paid tribute to legend Sir Bobby Charlton who passed away at the weekend, and the Reds managed to win their first Champions League game of the season at the third attempt.
This was not a match for the purist but if Sir Bobby was watching this then he might have been pleased that Maguire headed the winner and that Onana saved a penalty in added time – another dramatic finish after Scott McTominay helped turn over Brentford in injury time before the international break.
Both players have had a hard time recently and both were mobbed during their moments of glory in a game which was distinctly lacking in quality as Copenhagen deserved a point at Old Trafford but left empty handed.
Victory meant that the Reds leapfrogged the Danes into third place in their Champions League group and will probably need to repeat the feat in Copenhagen if they are to stand a chance of progressing to the knock out stages next year.
The Danes had gone close early in the game and had the measure of the Reds until the end of injury time.
Diogo Goncalves hit the post with a scuffed shot after Mohamed Elyounoussi won the ball off Maguire and put a cross in after less than 5 minutes.
United were hard working and showed flashes of skill – a burst of pace by Antony followed by a back heel by Rasmus Hojlund deserved better than Scott McTominay lunging forward to try and get a touch only to see a defender get there first.Embed from Getty Images
United struggle against FC Copenhagen before Harry Maguire pops up with a header
There was rather a lot of that from the Copenhagen defenders who dealt with almost everything United tried to throw at them and it was no surprise that there were boos at half time in a sterile and boring first half.
Passes were going astray like Bruno Fernandes again and there was a distinct lack of imagination with the Reds captain looking short of his best.
Christian Eriksen came on at the break to replace the ineffective Sofyan Amrabat to add a little more guile to the side.
And Victor Lindelof came on to replace Sergio Reguilon after 63 minutes.
It was a poor game but salvation for United eventually came in the shape of a towering header from Harry Maguire who rose above Rasmus Falk to convert Christian Eriksen’s cross from the right.
There were brief nerves as VAR checked it for offside but there was a palpable sense of relief in Old Trafford when it was confirmed.
United had a chance to double that lead after the visitors allowed a counter attack, McTominay found Garnacho whose shot was saved while the Scot got the loose ball but screwed the rebound wide of the back post.
Rasmus Hojlund was replaced by Anthony Martial – an unpopular decision – and he missed a reunion with his brother Oscar – an even later sub for the visitors – by a matter of minutes as Copenhagen looked for a late miracle and almost got it.
There was time for one moment of drama in added time as Scott McTominay’s clumsy challenge on Mohamed Elyounoussi was deemed a penalty and VAR didn’t overturn it.
Jordan Larsson stepped up 7 minutes into added time and his spot kick was saved by Onana who dived the right way and pushed it away wish his right hand.
Garnacho was seen scuffing up the penalty spot just before Larsson’s miss but United won’t care either way.
PLAYER RATINGS – Manchester United 1, FC Copenhagen 0
Andre Onana: 8. Tipped away an easy shot by Elias Achouri. Outfoxed by Diogo Goncalves and poor long passing. Saved Lucas Lerager’s shot in the second half too and his penalty save from Jordan Larsson preserved the win deep in to added time.
Diogo Dalot: 7. Took his eye off the ball early on. Good crosses into the box and charged down a free kick by Copenhagen.
Raphael Varane: 7. United have missed his passing from the back. Cut out a cutback by Elias Jelert and a cross by Diogo Goncalves as Copenhagen looked for a goal.
Harry Maguire: 7. Loose pass was charged down by Mohamed Elyounoussi but he settle. Massive header to give United the lead.
Sergio Reguilon: 6. Found it hard to get much traction down the United left after his injury lay off. Came off early.
Sofyan Amrabat: 5. Gave United some legs in midfield but not much inspiration as he couldn’t keep the ball long. Replaced at half time as United needed more guile.
Bruno Fernandes: 6. Tried to give United some rhythm but couldn’t rouse the team. Passing improved in the second half and he laid the ball on a plate for Rasmus Hojlund only for the striker to take a heavy first touch. Late shot deflected behind.
Scott McTominay: 6. Ball deflected off him and over after a great back heel by Rasmus Hojlund was begging to be converted but a Copenhagen defender got there first. Was slow to cut out threats and gave away an injury time penalty which could have thrown away 2 points.
Antony: 6. Showed a turn of pace up against Elias Jelert and some tricks but not much end product.
Marcus Rashford: 6. Couldn’t get past Peter Ankersen early on but did produce a fine ball from deep to release Hojlund that deserved a better finish. Thought he was clean through but Victor Claessen intercepted Sergio Reguilon’s through ball to him. Showed more of his pace after the break. Had a penalty claim turned down but wasn’t quite fast enough to reach a through ball after 58 minutes.
Rasmus Hojlund: 6. Early pressing almost won him an early chance to shoot. Fired over a golden chance after Marcus Rashford played him through after 17 minutes. Great back heel to present Scott McTominay with a chance. Tried to claim a penalty in the second half.
Christian Eriksen (on for Sofyan Amrabat, 46): 7. Came on to add more creativity and almost scored a goal but was denied by Kamil Grabara. Provided the moment of quality the game needed to put the ball into the box.
Victor Lindelof (on for Sergio Reguilon, 63): 6. Solid at left back.
Alejandro Garnacho (on for Antony, 63): 6. Heavy touch took the ball too close to Kamil Grabara as he ran clear courtesy of a Bruno Fernandes Hollywood ball.
Anthony Martial (on for Rasmus Hojlund, 86): No time to mark
TEAM NEWS – Manchester United 1, FC Copenhagen 0
Sergio Reguilon and Raphael Varane were the two changes from the side that beat Sheffield United at Bramall Lane at the weekend.
Jonny Evans and Victor Lindelof were dropped to the bench while Casemiro returned to training but was suspended for the game against Copenhagen.
Rasmus Hojlund started against his boyhood club.
Bobby Charlton’s name was sung in the build-up to the game
GOAL – Manchester United 1, FC Copenhagen 0
Man Utd 1, FC Copenhagen 0: 72. Towering header from Harry Maguire lights up Old Trafford after great cross from Christian Eriksen on the right.
MATCH STATS – Manchester United 1, FC Copenhagen 0
Man Utd: Onana, Dalot, Varane, Maguire, Reguilon, Amrabat (Eriksen 46), Fernandes (C), McTominay, Antony (Garnacho 63), Rashford, Rasmus Hojlund (Martial 86)
Man Utd Subs not used: Bayindir, Heaton, Lindelof, Mount, Garnacho, Pellistri, Evans, Hannibal
Bookings: Fernandes, McTominay
Goal: Maguire 72
FC Copenhagen: Grabara, Ankersen, Vavro, Diks, Jelert (Sorensen 77), Falk, Lerager, Goncalves (Larsson 85), Achouri (Oscar Hojlund 90+1), Elyounoussi, Claesson (C) (Oskarsson 77)
FC Copenhagen Subs not used: Sander, Dithmer, Khocholava, Tanlongo, Babacar, Boilesen, Lund, Bardghji
Missed Pen: Larsson 90+7
Referee: Marco Guida