Copenhagen v Manchester United: Champions League – live | Champions League

Key events

32 min: Copenhagen respond by picking up the pace. Thing is, they’d done that just before the second goal, and were looking half-decent for the first time this evening, until United hit them on the counter, and hit them hard. United have Copenhagen where they want them.

30 min: … Maguire heads down towards the bottom-left corner. Grabara makes a meal of claiming, but keeps the ball out.

29 min: Theatre of nightmares? For Copenhagen, perhaps. Goncalves and Falk combine to give up the ball to Hojlund who, brimful of confidence, sends a rising drive goalwards. Grabara sticks up a strong arm to stop the quick-fire hat-trick, pushing the ball over the bar at the expense of a corner, from which …

GOAL! Copenhagen 0-2 Manchester United (Hojlund 28)

Copenhagen probe, but ship possession cheaply as Vavro heads straight to Fernandes. Suddenly United are tearing off on a three-on-two! Garnacho zips down the inside-left channel, all the way into the box. He aims for the bottom right. Grabara parries but the ball simply sits up for Hojlund, who coverts his second tap-in of the evening!

26 min: This bitty first half stops again as Maguire points towards the crowd behind United’s goal. Not sure what’s happened, something thrown perhaps, but it’s another chance for Jacob Neestrup to make some running repairs, chatting away into the ears of a couple of his players.

24 min: Some space for Falk down the right. He pings a pass down the channel for Elyounoussi, and suddenly United look light at the back. Elyounoussi whips in low towards Achouri, who gets in ahead of Wan-Bissaka and Maguire, but Onana comes to the rescue and smothers at his feet. So close to an equaliser.

22 min: Copenhagen try to string a few passes together for the first time this evening, but Ankersen’s aimless header forward gives the ball back to United, who reassert their dominance of both possession and territory. The hosts have been very poor so far.

20 min: The game restarts.

19 min: The Danish director spends the bulk of the stoppage training the camera on Christian Eriksen. You don’t need me to join the dots. Here’s hoping the ill spectator will recover as fully as Eriksen has done.

18 min: Ah right, there’s a medical emergency in one of the stands. Quite rightly the game takes second place to the stricken individual. Here’s to their good health.

17 min: The game eventually restarts. Not exactly sure why this stoppage has lasted the best part of four minutes, given Evans immediately knew he couldn’t continue, and left the scene without fuss.

16 min: Varane comes on, and nudges Maguire to the left-hand side of the central defensive partnership.

15 min: Nope, Evans trudges off. As Varane prepares to take his place, Jacob Neestrup gathers his players into a huddle and gives them the what-for.

13 min: Evans goes down, holding his groin. Not sure he’s going to be able to continue. A fair bit of head shaking going on.

12 min: Copenhagen take their first shot of the evening, Falk swanning in from the left and aiming for the near post. Onana parries easily. “They should give that banner an assist,” suggests Nick Smith. Try taking it off the in-form McTominay, who as things stand is surely on course to be named United’s player of the season.

11 min: The game restarts, and United continue to knock it around with the sort of confidence that’s been missing too often this season. Garnacho makes good down the left and his pullback only just evades Hojlund in the middle.

9 min: A pitch invader comes on, a flag trailing behind him. Getting rid of the fate-tempting “Theatre of nightmares” banner before things get even worse for the hosts?

7 min: So yes, that “Your theatre of nightmares” slogan registers a full 11 on the Guardian’s patented Hubris-o-meter™.

5 min: What a start for United. The goal hasn’t exactly silenced the home crowd, but it has irritated them. A lot of loud whistles. Had the cartoon red devil not already been awoken from his slumber by Hojlund’s goal, he’d be up and about now.

GOAL! Copenhagen 0-1 Manchester United (Hojlund 3)

A dream return to Copenhagen for Hojlund! Wan-Bissaka makes a good run down the right. He reaches the byline and cuts back for McTominay, who simply rolls a ball through the six-yard box. Hojlund can’t miss from a couple of yards out, and that’s his fourth goal in the Champions League!

Rasmus Hojlund celebrates opening the scoring with a knee slide. Photograph: Maja Hitij/Getty Images

2 min: … and replays show the ball had come off his torso first anyway, so the referee would have had to be in full pedant mode to have pointed at the spot. Though again, all rules are open to jazz interpretations these days.

1 min: A high ball is intercepted by McTominay just inside the United box. He kicks it onto Maguire’s arm. No penalty, and it would have been extremely harsh … and yet, seeing nobody knows anything any more, some referees would surely have given it. Maguire’s arm wasn’t right by his side, put it that way.

Copenhagen get the party started. A fine post-pyro party atmosphere at Parken, a little smoke lingering.

The teams are out! Copenhagen wear their first-choice colours of white with blue trim, while United sport their traditional red and black. The home fans tease United by displaying a banner that reads “Your theatre of nightmares” and depicts Marcus Allbäck scoring the winner on United’s only other visit to Parken back in 2006, plus a cartoon of a red devil having a freelancer’s daytime snooze in bed. Risky hubris? We’ll soon find out, once Uefa have done their usual number on Handel.

Copenhagen fans display a tifo stating "Your Theatre of Nightmares"
Copenhagen fans take their tifo game to the next level. Photograph: Maja Hitij/Getty Images

This has absolutely nothing to do with this game, but it’s worth mentioning anyway. Union Berlin have just earned a 1-1 draw at Napoli in Group C. Matteo Politano opened the scoring for the Italians just before the break, but David Datro Fofana equalised on 52 minutes, scoring Union’s first goal in 32 days. The Germans held on for a point, their first ever in the Champions League, and it snapped a 12-game losing run in all competitions. Blessed relief for Union coach Urs Fischer, and there’s Erik ten Hag thinking he’s got problems.

Copenhagen coach Jacob Neestrup talks to TNT. “We need to create a good performance … [but] a good performance is not enough today … we need points on the table … it’s a big pressure, but we will and we can manage … since we were at Old Trafford we have won three games in a row so we have had confidence for the whole of 2023 … we believe big-time in ourselves, but at the same time have the biggest respect for our opponent today … top-class players in every position on the pitch … but we believe in Copenhagen and have a belief that we can do it … we have exactly the same to lose as our opponent, it’s zero points, one point or three points, exactly the same to win or lose as United.”

FC Copenhagen hold up their scarves and cheer for their team.
The Copenhagen fans seem up for this. Photograph: Kieran McManus/Shutterstock

Pre-match reading. Today’s offering comes courtesy of The Artist Formerly Known As The Fiver.

Erik ten Hag speaks to TNT Sports. He says his team will “try to dictate by defending as a team and attacking as a team … we trust this team … they did very well last Saturday … we have to go to a consistent team … they can still do better in possession … but they fought as a team so you have to give trust to the team … the players know what to do and how to deal with [atmospheres like the one at Parken tonight] … at Fulham and Burnley there were also such atmospheres … the players have experiences … last year at Barcelona … it’s great to play in such atmospheres … the ambience has to be fuel.”

Given his repeated reference to trusting the team that did well on Saturday, an additional note about the line-up: he’s only made one change from the Fulham game, recalling Marcus Rashford and benching Antony.

Manchester United make four changes to the team that started the reverse fixture at Old Trafford: Christian Eriksen, Alejandro Garnacho, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Jonny Evans take the places of Sofyan Amrabat, Antony, Sergio Reguilón and Raphaël Varane, all of whom drop to the bench. Marcus Rashford returns after missing the Fulham game through injury; Rasmus Hojlund will lead the line against his former club.

Copenhagen name the same starting XI as the one Jacob Neestrup selected for the match at Old Trafford.

The teams

Copenhagen: Grabara, Ankersen, Vavro, Diks, Jelert, Lerager, Jensen, Goncalves, Elyounoussi, Claesson, Achouri.
Subs: Sorensen, Tanlongo, Larsson, El Babacar, Oskarsson, Boilesen, Sander, Lund Jensen, Oscar Hojlund, Bardghji, Dithmer, Froholdt.

Manchester United: Onana, Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Evans, Dalot, McTominay, Eriksen, Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Garnacho, Hojlund.
Subs: Bayindir, Lindelof, Amrabat, Mount, Martial, Reguilon, Varane, Antony, Heaton, Pellistri, Mejbri, Forson.

Referee: Donatas Rumsas (Lithuania).


Two weeks ago this happened …

… a result that left Group A looking like this …

… which means Manchester United are in better nick than they arguably deserve to be after three below-par performances in the Champions League. They did however show plenty of moxie in that narrow victory over Copenhagen at Old Trafford, just as they did to eke out a win at Fulham in the Premier League last weekend. With a trip to Galatasaray and the visit of Bayern Munich yet to come, a similarly spirited three-point performance at Parken tonight isn’t mathematically necessary, but would come in mighty handy in United’s quest to make it through to the knockouts. Kick off is at 8pm GMT. It’s on!

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