Erik ten Hag says Man Utd played ‘so good’ and blames officials for Champions League defeat in Copenhagen | Football News


Man Utd twice threw away a lead on their way to losing 4-3 in Copenhagen in the Champions League on Wednesday night; United are now bottom of Group A and face an uphill task to reach the knockout stages; Erik ten Hag blamed the defeat on three decisions by the officials

By Joe Shread, @JoeShreadSky

Erik ten Hag described Manchester United’s performance in their 4-3 defeat at FC Copenhagen as “very good” and pinned the blame for the result on the officials.

United lost for the third time in four Champions League games to leave their hopes of qualifying from Group A hanging by a thread.

Ten Hag’s side led 2-0 before being pegged back to 2-2 after Marcus Rashford was sent off. Bruno Fernandes put United 3-2 ahead but the Premier League side again crumbled at the end of the second half, conceding three or more goals in a match for the seventh time this season.

But despite their slim chances of progressing from a group that they were heavy favourites to negotiate, Ten Hag was pleased with much of what he saw from his side.

Mark Ogden was highly critical of Manchester United following their 4-3 defeat at the hands of Copenhagen in the Champions League.

“We are very disappointed because we played very good,” he said. “We started the game so well. Our best minutes of the season. We are winning the game and the red card changes everything.”

Copenhagen had more of the possession and registered 16 shots to United’s nine, but Ten Hag insisted: “It’s a game of mistakes. I wouldn’t say we did everything right but there are a lot of positives.

“Even with 10 men we were dictating the game. We played very good.”

Instead, Ten Hag believes a number of decisions went against United in the Danish capital, starting with the call to send off Rashford for stamping on Elias Jelert as he looked to protect the ball following a VAR review.

Following Manchester United’s 4-3 loss at Copenhagen, The Telegraph’s Sam Wallace and The Daily Mail’s Riath Al-Samarrai debate whether Erik ten Hag’s job is under pressure at Old Trafford

“So, so harsh,” Ten Hag said of the decision. “He went for the ball and the referee needs a long time to make it a red card.

“When you freeze it, it looks worse. I am very disappointed about such a decision.”

Ten Hag went on to become the latest manager to criticise the implementation of VAR, adding: “The game is never meant to be like this. This has nothing to do with football.

“I accept wrong decisions are made but when you make such tough decisions, you control the game.”

Ten Hag did not comment on the penalty that was controversially awarded to United for handball against Lukas Lerager – despite the ball travelling a short distance and appearing to strike Harry Maguire’s hand first.

Tom Cleverley gives his reaction after 10-player Manchester United lost 4-3 at Copenhagen, leaving them bottom of their Champions League group

However, the Dutchman was upset about the penalty Maguire conceded for handball – the fourth to go against United in the Champions League this season – while he also claimed a Copenhagen player obstructed Andre Onana from an offside position for their first goal.

“We concede two goals that should not count,” Ten Hag argued. “The first is offside and the second goal, it’s so close and the hand is in a normal position. What can you do for that?

“Four penalties against us in four games and two or three are very debatable. The game can’t be like this.”

Ten Hag said the decisions that went against his side are part of a pattern that has helped to contribute to the nine defeats they have suffered in 17 games this season – the most at this stage of a campaign in 50 years.

“This squad is so solid,” he said. “All season, so many decisions are against us and so many setbacks with injuries.

“There is a spirit in the squad and every time we will keep going. It will turn in our favour.”

Why Rashford was sent off

Whether Rashford intended to connect with Elias Jelert or not is irrelevant in this scenario. The intent of Rashford’s action does not matter, only the action, an area of the laws that is even more strictly applied in Europe.

Granted, given Rashford is seemingly not making a tackle, and only trying to shield the ball, he is unlucky, but the laws have technically been adhered to in this instance, and Manchester United shouldn’t be expecting any form of apology.

UEFA also initially reported on their website that Rashford was dismissed for catching Jelert with his arm, but that was later corrected.

Man Utd’s remaining Champions League fixtures

November 29: Galatasaray (A) – kick-off 5.45pm

December 12: Bayern Munich (H) – kick-off 8pm

Hits and Misses: Fragile United plumb new depths

Sky Sports’ Joe Shread

We are in November and Manchester United have lost more than 50 per cent of their matches this season. The last time they experienced that many defeats in their first 17 games of a season was in 1973/74 – the last time they were relegated.

No one is suggesting United will repeat that nightmare – not yet, anyway – but their current form is staggeringly bad.

They have conceded 30 goals in just 17 games across all competitions. Their last four matches alone have seen them ship 10 goals, while only Celtic and Antwerp have conceded more than them in the Champions League this season.

It’s hard to criticise Erik ten Hag for Marcus Rashford and Harry Maguire’s first-half indiscretions as both carried more than a hint of misfortune, even if the decisions were correct.

But the manager has to bear responsibility for the way his side reacted. Every time Copenhagen – a side that had failed to score in eight of their last 10 matches against English sides – applied any pressure, United’s defence disintegrated.

The sheer amount of goals United have conceded shows that propensity to collapse is a common theme. Equally damning is the fact that, after losing two out of two away from home in the Champions League as United boss, Ten Hag has now lost more matches on the road in the competition than he did across 16 games with Ajax.

At this rate, United and Ten Hag may not even end up in the Europa League.

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