Rasmus Højlund continued his fine Champions League form with two more goals as Manchester United once again failed to capitalise on their striker’s good work against FC Copenhagen.
Erik ten Hag’s side squandered a two goal lead to end up losing 4-3 in the final few minutes of a game once again overshadowed by VAR.
United went two-nil up courtesy of two classic poacher goals by Højlund, who takes his Champions League goal record for the club to five goals in four games.
While the Danish striker has struggled for goals domestically, he has consistently run riot on the continent. And tonight was no different.
Inspired by a return to his former side, Højlund was a constant menace for the Copenhagen defenders in the first half. Two goals doesn’t quite capture how much of a threat he was with a powerful volley almost clinching a well-deserved hat-trick.
The cruel hand of inept officiating then intervened to ruin what had been a textbook start by Ten Hag’s men.
Marcus Rashford was sent off for a coming together which created a bad contact with a Copenhagen player, but was completely unintentional.
The referee chose initially to not give a red, but was instructed by the VAR team to reconsider. This then led to the inexplicable act of reversing his decision.
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) November 8, 2023
(When even Jamie Carragher is in United’s corner, you know it was a bad decision)
United were reduced to ten men and the entire complexion of the game changed. A more in-depth recap of exactly how this farcical game then unfolded can be found here.
Højlund did not allow his head to drop in the face of adversity, however. The dynamic Dane worked relentlessly for his team, constantly harassing the opposition defence and offering an outlet for his team to progress up the pitch.
United’s positive performance, despite the numerical disadvantage, turned sour when Højlund was substituted. His teammates sorely lacked his potent pairing of physicality and pace up front, and Copenhagen were able to really take a footing in the game as a result.
The result, with Højlund’s performance and goals, mirrored the previous Champions League fixture against Galatasaray. Two goals by the striker were forgotten amidst a cacophony of mistakes by his teammates (and officials), concluding with a disappointing United loss.
Højlund, once again, deserved far more on a night where he looked worth every penny of the £72 million United paid for him in the summer.