Rasmus Højlund is confident “every player in the dressing room” backs Erik ten Hag after Manchester United’s 4-3 defeat at Copenhagen in the Champions League.
The 20-year-old striker scored twice to take his total in the competition to five but United are bottom of Group A with two games remaining. They have lost nine of their 17 games this season, winning the other eight. Wednesday’s defeat will add to the scrutiny on Ten Hag going into Saturday’s visit of Luton in the Premier League.
Of Ten Hag, Højlund said: “A really good coach. He cares about every single detail and he helps me a lot, gives me a lot of confidence and supports me. I think every player in the dressing room supports him. I hope it is just a matter of time [before United will be successful]. The first 30 minutes today was some of the best football we have been playing this season.”
‘Football is never meant to be like this’: Ten Hag angered by VAR decisionsRead more
United were 2-0 up at Parken thanks to Højlund’s goals before Marcus Rashford’s red card proved pivotal, the forward stepping on Elias Jelert’s ankle near the United area.
Donatas Rumsas was directed to the pitchside screen by the VAR to review the challenge and sent off Rashford on 43 minutes. Ten Hag called the decision “harsh”, and three minutes later Mohamed Elyounoussi scored a goal that United’s manager claimed should have been ruled out owing to an offside Copenhagen player being in the eyeline of the goalkeeper André Onana.
Ten Hag also said Diogo Gonçalves’s penalty, which levelled the scores in the ninth added minute of the first half, should not have been given for handball against Harry Maguire. Højlund said: “We need a little luck at the moment. We miss the small things.”
United retook the lead in the second half via Bruno Fernandes’s penalty before late goals from Lukas Lerager and Roony Bardghji consigned them to another defeat. Ten Hag’s side are a point behind Galatasaray and Copenhagen, with the same goal difference as the former and with a worse one than the latter. They play at Galatasaray next before hosting Bayern Munich. “We have a mountain to climb, so we must climb,” Fernandes told Uefa.
Højlund, asked how he felt about scoring against his first club, said: “Not so good. A special game for me. It was nice to score two goals but having said that it is a shame that we concede a red card because we were playing very well in the first 20-25 minutes. It was very special for me to hear the FC Copenhagen hymn before the match, of course, but I am playing for Manchester United so that is the team I hope win every match.”
Copenhagen’s defender Denis Vavro has called Alejandro Garnacho a “clown” after the winger tried to scuff the penalty spot before Gonçalves’s successful spot-kick. Garnacho did the same in the reverse match at Old Trafford a fortnight ago before Onana saved Jordan Larsson’s added-time kick.
Vavro told bold.dk: “It is the second time [Garnacho has done this]. And then on our track? To me, he is a clown. He has the mentality of a child when he tries something like this again. In an away game. One thing is at home in the 97th minute, but here in the first half. I don’t understand him trying to do that.”
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United fans will resume their protests against the Glazers’ ownership on Saturday after a pause owing to the death of Sir Bobby Charlton. The 1958 group want a “full sale” of the club and have asked supporters to meet behind Old Trafford’s Stretford End before the 3pm kick-off.
After the American family served notice of the “potential sale” of United a year ago, Sir Jim Ratcliffe is expected to acquire a 25% share for £1.3bn, a price that will allow him control of football policy.
The 1958 spokesperson Steve Crompton said: “The fight remains in full force. There was a natural impasse to reflect the sad passing of Sir Bobby but we will never give up until the greedy Glazers have been removed from our club in their entirety.”