COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Erik ten Hag criticized the first-half red card for Marcus Rashford — which the Manchester United coach said “changed everything” — as his team surrendered a 2-0 lead to lose 4-3 against FC Copenhagen.
United are now bottom of Champions League Group A having suffered their third defeat in four games. They must now beat Galatasaray in Istanbul later this month and Bayern Munich at Old Trafford in their final game to have a realistic chance of reaching the round of 16.
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But after racing into an early lead through two Rasmus Hojlund goals, United’s night turned sour when Rashford was sent off following the intervention of VAR for a 42nd-minute foul on Elias Jelert.
Rashford caught the Copenhagen player on the shin with the sole of his boot and was shown a red card by referee Donatas Rumsas, but Ten Hag called the decision “harsh.”
“The red card changed everything,” Ten Hag said. “We then conceded two goals before half-time that should never have counted — the first was offside, their player was stood in front of André Onana, and the penalty [for the second] was very debatable.
“The red card was harsh. [Rashford] went for the ball, but the referee had such a long time to make it a red card. When you freeze it, it always looks worse. They took so long to make a red card of it.
“I’m very disappointed with the decisions, the game was never meant to be like this. Decisions have to be made, wrong decisions can be made, but three such tough decisions [went against us].”
United have now lost 9 of 17 games in all competitions this season. The result also marked the first time in European competition that the Red Devils lost a game when leading by multiple goals, having won 78 times and drawn twice in previous instances. However, Ten Hag said that his players will soon get the break he believes their performances deserve.
“It’s clear. We are very disappointed because we play very good, started the game so well, our best minutes of the season,” he said. “But the squad is resilient. The whole season, so many decisions are against us, but every time, there is spirit and fight. We will keep going and it will turn in our favour.
“Football is a game of mistakes. We didn’t do everything right, even with 10 men, we dictated the game. We didn’t do everything, but we did many things right.”