After losing their opening two Champions League group stage games, United finally got the ball rolling with a nervy 1-0 victory over FC Copenhagen. They needed Harry Maguire to head home from close range and Onana to palm away Jordan Larsson&aposs added-time penalty, but a win is a win.
To their credit, Copenhagen were undoubtedly the better side on the night, gaining the impetus early on and holding it for much of the game. An equaliser from Larsson would have been painful for United, but it would have been deserved and when the Danish champions welcome Erik ten Hag&aposs side to Parken Stadium on Wednesday, they will do so with optimism.
I think the feeling [after the first leg] was very bitter, Christian Kraglund, a sports journalist for Danish outlet TV2 Sport, tells the Manchester Evening News. Especially looking at the missed penalty in the last minute because it wouldnt have been undeserved for Copenhagen to have got at least a point.
The first feeling that fans felt was obviously frustration and bitterness but there is also optimism going into the next game because Copenhagen is a completely different team at Parken. The fans and the club are very confident about themselves when they play at home.
Even if they&aposd have played a bad game at Old Trafford, they would still have plenty of belief because that&aposs just the way the fans look at Champions League home games. Its in their DNA to try and make a tough fight for the worlds biggest clubs and they have done so over the last 10 years.
That last decade has seen plenty of teams fly to the Danish capital expecting to win before being given a rude awakening. They went unbeaten in last year&aposs Champions League group stage at Parken Stadium, drawing against Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla and eventual champions Manchester City.
Ajax, FC Porto and Juventus have also dropped points in Copenhagen since 2013. Turn back a few more pages in the record books and there is also a 1-0 over United in November 2006.
Ten Hag&aposs side head to Copenhagen off the back of a late away-day win over Fulham but their record on the road over the last year has been woeful. Against the other eight teams in last season&aposs top nine, they took one point away from home and were well beaten by City, Liverpool and Brentford.
They have won their last three on the road against Fulham, Sheffield United and Burnley but scraped through in each. And those performances have only done more to encourage Wednesday&aposs hosts, who have taken confidence from pushing Bayern Munich until the 83rd minute in their last Champions League home game.
“Copenhagen&aposs last games really gave them confidence and looking at how United are playing, especially in their last games, that only strengthens the belief in themselves,” Kraglund explains. “Even if Manchester United were playing at their best, the fans would still have optimism because thats the way they are.
“For the Copenhagen fans, these games are a chance for their support to be seen by the world and they will see it as a chance to get exposure but most importantly, to give the players what they need and intimidate the United players. It seems like you can hurt them at the moment so I can only imagine the atmosphere will be buzzing.”
Wednesday&aposs trip to Denmark will also see Rasmus Hojlund return to the ground where he made a name for himself in senior football at 17. He only played 32 times for Copenhagen before earning a move to Austrian side Sturm Graz and then Atalanta in Italy.
It has been a rapid rise to prominence for the 20-year-old, whose transfer value has risen from 1.5million when he left Denmark in January 2022 to 72m this summer. There has been plenty for United fans to like about their new leading man, but goals remain a problem.
Hojlund has been excellent in the Champions League, opening his account for United in the 4-3 defeat at Bayern Munich before a brilliant brace in front of the Old Trafford crowd against Galatasaray. But his career at the club is yet to fully kick off and with each goalless league game, scrutiny is growing.