Manchester United’s faltering season suffered another significant blow as Marcus Rashford’s red card contributed to a dramatic, qualification-damaging Champions League defeat by FC Copenhagen.
In a wild and wonderful contest in the Danish capital, United showed guile and grit for periods and twice looked to have claimed a crucial win before succumbing late on to a goal from 17-year-old substitute Roony Bardghji.
They were cruising midway through the first half thanks to Rasmus Hojlund’s double against his hometown club – both close-range finishes from a striker knowing exactly where he needed to be and when.
But the game turned in the 42nd minute when referee Donatas Rumsas was called to the pitchside monitor to rule on a late tackle by Rashford to the ankle of Elias Jelert and responded by showing the forward a red card.
With 13 minutes added, largely as a result of an injury to United defender Jonny Evans and a medical emergency in the crowd, the home side took advantage through Mohamed Elyounoussi’s finish and a Diogo Goncalves penalty – awarded for a handball by Harry Maguire.
United defied their numerical disadvantage to hold the home side at bay, before again claiming the lead through Bruno Fernandes’ penalty – awarded via VAR for a handball by Lukas Lerager.
But the home side were not to be denied. Lerager made amends and drew them level with a back-post header, before Bardghji hammered home after United failed to clear.
While United are down, they are not yet out, although they do now sit bottom of Group A and face a game at Galatasaray – where they have never won – before hosting the already-qualified Bayern Munich.