FC Copenhagen twice came from behind to snatch a historic 4-3 win over Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League (UCL). Victory for Jacob Neestrup’s men marks just the second time that a Danish side has beaten English opposition and the first time since 2006.
Manchester United were welcomed by a stunning tifo choreographed by the Copenhagen fans that read ‘Your theatre of nightmares’, and yet, the visitors to the Danish capital had the start of their dreams, taking the lead within three minutes. Aaron Wan-Bissaka did well down the right flank before picking out Scott McTominay, who flashed the ball across the face of goal for Rasmus Højlund to tap in against his former club. Things went from bad to worse for the home side as United broke on a counterattack led by Alejandro Garnacho, whose shot was parried into the path of Højlund to fire into the empty net and give United a 2-0 lead.
Cruising and looking completely comfortable, everything was going well for United until the 42nd minute when Marcus Rashford was sent off for an apparent stamp on Elias Jelert. Copenhagen immediately made their man advantage count as Mohamed Elyounoussi fired in a tidy volley from inside the box in the 45th minute. For a variety of delays, there was 13 minutes of stoppage time, and the hosts made use of that by restoring parity in the ninth additional minute. Harry Maguire handled the ball in the box, allowing Diogo Gonçalves to step up and roll the ball into the bottom left corner from the spot, capping off a wild end to the first half.
The second half began with the same kind of chaotic end-to-end feel to it, as United seemed to be on top despite playing with 10 men, and Diogo Dalot saw a shot saved at the near post. After managing the game reasonably well, the United players were appealing for a penalty just past the hour mark when Maguire’s header struck the arm of Denix Vavro. After a lengthy VAR review, Bruno Fernandes stepped up and smashed the spot-kick into the roof of the net. With a precious lead restored and with a man down, United went into game management mode for the remaining 20 minutes plus stoppage time as Copenhagen produced waves of attacks on the Red Devils’ goal.
It looked like Erik ten Hag’s side were going to hold on for a vital victory but they were pegged back once again late on as Lukas Lerager popped up at the back post to notch in an equaliser, setting up a grandstand finish. The action wasn’t finished there as the Parken erupted in the 87th minute after 17-year-old Roony Bardghji pounced on a loose ball in the box to lash past André Onana and give Copenhagen their first win in the UCL group stage this season. The result leaves the Red Devils bottom of the group, while Copenhagen move into second ahead of Galatasaray.