The Unlikely duo of Onana, Maguire stars in Man Utd's CL Win

By Real11 - Oct 25 2023 173 Views

Manchester United stay afloat in Champions League as Onana, Maguire stars in victory over Copehagen

On a night when Manchester United dignified one of their club legends, they found two unlikely ones in Harry Maguire and Andrè Onana  

The lead up to Tuesday’s Champions League tie with FC Copenhagen was highlighted by tributes to Man United icon Sir Bobby Charlton, who died aged 86 on Saturday–but the corollary was all about Maguire’s only goal and Onana's last gasp penalty save as Man United scraped out a narrow 1-0 win against the Danish champions. 

It was a surprise to see Maguire even in the starting eleven given the backlash he has faced offlate, but when the Red Devils required a flash of inspiration to save a stumbling European campaign, he delivered it with a second half headed goal. 

But the drama was far from over. Scott Mctominay conceded a penalty in probably the last minute of the allotted extra minutes of injury time. Onana, who has been vilified by the press and heavily denounced by the United supporters- came up with probably the biggest save of his short career at Old Trafford as he denied Jordan Larsson’s spot kick. It was Sir Bobby Charlton who first labelled Old Trafford “The Theatre of Dreams” and this of all nights was certainly fitting. 

"It is incredible and a great night," said manager Erik ten Hag. "Especially in the dying second when you concede a penalty, but a brilliant save from Andre Onana. Harry Maguire played a good game and Andre Onana as well. A poor first-half, but we stayed calm and in the second-half we stepped up and made more chances than them. I think in the end the result is justified but it was a narrow escape in the end."

The match defining goal by Maguire was his first since February 2022, and it was a truly special moment for the former Utd skipper, who has had a torrid time since Ten Hag arrived at the helm. He lost his place to Lisandro Maritnez and Raphaël Varana for majority of the last season and was then stripped of captaincy ahead of the current season. He has spent the initial few months of the season warming up the bench. 

Injuries have reprieved the out-of-favour defender’s career and since his return he has looked solid. After doing well in the 2-1 over former club Sheffield United on Saturday, he retained his place against FC Copenhagen ahead of Victor Lindelöf and Johnny Evans. 

His night didn’t start ideally as he lost a challenge to Mohamed Elyounoussi on the halfway line in the opening few minutes, which led to Diogo Gonçalves hitting the post, but it concluded with him being cheered as he walked down the tunnel. 

Over the last year or so, the defender hasn’t had many cherishable moments in the United shirt, but this was definitely one and he will hope he has gained enough trust of the Man Utd boss to start Sunday’s derby game against city rivals Manchester City. 

Meanwhile, Onana, has had his place in the team questioned after a string of mistakes since his £43.8m move from Inter, but there are no uncertainties as to who will start in goal on Sunday. 

There were times again on Tuesday when Onana’s attempts to play out from the back didn’t pay any dividend. But he made an acrobatic save to keep Lukas Lerager early in the second half and subsequently, with the game on the line produced a magical save to deflect Larsson’s penalty wide with a firm right save. 

The penalty save came so deep in the stoppage time that the ball had hardly stopped bouncing away from the goal when the referee blew the final whistle. 

Onana took full responsibility for Manchester United's defeat against Bayern Munich in the opening match of the Champions League. His costly error allowed Leroy Sané to score an easily preventable goal. Onana was also at fault in the incident that led to United midfielder Casemiro being sent off in the 3-2 loss to Galatasaray. However, United has finally found their footing in Group A, and they owe it to their new goalkeeper from Cameroon, Onana.

Erik ten Hag, the coach, praised Onana's display, acknowledging that the goalkeeper had previously not lived up to his full potential. Ten Hag highlighted Onana's improved performance in the recent match against Sheffield United, where he made an important save during a counterattack. The coach commended Onana for showing character and recognizing that he can do better.

Despite the victory, questions remain for Manchester United. The fans at Old Trafford experienced an unforgettable moment, but there are concerns about why the team relied on a goal from a center-back and a dramatic penalty save to defeat FC Copenhagen. The first half of the match was particularly poor, and it was only when Christian Eriksen was introduced as a substitute at halftime that United gained control.

FC Copenhagen, who suffered a 5-0 defeat against Manchester City in the previous year's group stage, proved to be a challenging opponent for Ten Hag's team. Each of Manchester United's three consecutive wins in the group stage has been filled with uncertainty and difficult moments.

Scott McTominay emerged as the hero in the match against Brentford, scoring two stoppage-time goals, while Diogo Dalot showcased his skills with a stunning long-range strike against Sheffield United.

As Manchester United prepares to face Manchester City on Sunday, Ten Hag hopes that another player will step up and seize the spotlight at the Theatre of Dreams.

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