Manchester United’s hopes of qualifying for the knockout phase of the Champions League are left hanging by a thread after defeat to FC Copenhagen last night left them bottom of Group A.
It was all going to plan for Erik ten Hag and his troops, with the clock ticking towards half-time in Denmark.
Rasmus Hojlund’s impressive double had given United a commanding 2-0 lead and looking more likely to add a third than the home side reducing the arrears.
However, Marcus Rashford’s clash with Copenhagen defender Elias Jelert saw the United forward shown a straight red card and Copenhagen made use of the 13 minutes’ of stoppage time to get into the break on level pegging.
Rashford’s dismissal was no doubt the turning point in a game United were in full control of.
The nature of the decision added insult to injury with the VAR somehow concluding that Rashford had stamped on Jelert rather than getting his body in front of the defender to protect the ball.
It was one of many questionable decisions made on a dramatic night that saw the game see-saw back in United’s favour through Bruno Fernandes’ second-half penalty before Copenhagen scored twice in the final seven minutes to secure the invaluable three points.
As reported by Metro, Jelert was spotted with a bandaged ankle after the game and spoke on the match defining incident, admitting even he felt Rashford was unfortunate to see red.
“It is after the tackle at the red card, which I also think is unfortunate. He just tries to screen, but I get hit high and wiggle my ankle violently. Now that it has cooled, I can feel it is stiff and swollen,” he said.
Jelert also revealed the United man apologised to him after the collision and confirmed his belief that there was no ill-intent behind the incident.
“Yes, when they checked on VAR, he was there to say sorry. So there was nothing malicious about it,” he added.
Rashford will now miss the must-win clash with Galatasaray on Matchday 5.
A defeat in Turkey would officially end United’s return to Europe’s top table and even a win would leave them needing something from the final group game against Bayern Munich.
Before then however, United must get back to winning ways by seeing off Luton Town who visit Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon.