Amidst the tumultuous evening in Copenhagen, Manchester United found themselves entangled in a chaotic spectacle, featuring seven goals, two penalties, a pivotal red card, a pitch-invading protester, and a decisive goal courtesy of a 17-year-old substitute.
However, the persistent topic of discussion remains VAR’s role in the unfolding drama.
In a week dominated by the controversy surrounding video technology, reminiscent of Monday’s uproar at Tottenham, VAR once again took center stage in Denmark, contributing to Manchester United’s setback in the Champions League.
Manager Erik ten Hag expressed his belief that VAR’s intervention, leading to Marcus Rashford’s dismissal for an apparent foot incident with Elias Jelert, was a “game-changer.” At the time of the decision, Manchester United held a 2-0 lead. Former United midfielder Paul Scholes, commenting on TNT Sports, contested the red card, stating, “In real time, it’s just not a red.”
However, co-commentator Robbie Savage, also on TNT Sports, disagreed with Scholes, asserting, “That, for me, is a red card.” He emphasized Rashford’s action as an intentional attempt to protect the ball, resulting in a stamped shin and a definite red card.
Referee Donatas Rumsas found himself summoned to the pitchside monitor twice more during the game, awarding penalties for handballs, both deemed “soft” by Scholes’ fellow TNT Sports commentator Owen Hargreaves.
Amidst the aftermath of another disheartening defeat for United, leaving their qualification for the last 16 in jeopardy, BBC Sport delves into the turmoil and controversies in the Danish capital.
United appeared to be in control after a stellar 25 minutes at the beginning of Wednesday’s game, marked by Rasmus Hojlund’s two close-range goals in a display of purpose and precision.
However, the turning point came in the 42nd minute when Rashford’s indiscretion led to a red card, altering the course of the game. Ten Hag remarked, “It is a harsh decision – he was going for the ball. The referee was not sure.”
Hargreaves, unequivocal in his stance, declared, “Not in a million years. Marcus is just trying to put his leg out to protect the ball.” Scholes echoed, emphasizing Rashford’s accidental and non-malicious actions.
Despite Lerager leveling the score, 17-year-old substitute Roony Bardghji secured the late winner with three minutes remaining in normal time.
Ten Hag, despite acknowledging positives, lamented the loss of focus with 10 men on the field. United now faces a challenging task in Group A, trailing behind Copenhagen and Galatasaray with three points.
Their upcoming matches against Galatasaray in Turkey and a final home game against the already qualified Bayern Munich will determine their fate in the competition.