Manchester United were far from their best in Denmark, where Europa League opponents Midtjylland came from behind to record a 2-1 victory at MCH Arena on Thursday.
- Midtjylland 2 Manchester United 1
- Memphis puts United ahead
- Sisto equalised soon afterwards
- Onuachu wins it for the underdogs
There were a few missed chances from both sides before the goals arrived late in the first half. Memphis Depay slipped at the crucial moment but managed to regain his footing to put United ahead, but Midtjylland were level at halftime when Pione Sisto struck for the hosts, punishing Michael Carrick for a negligent back pass.
Jesse Lingard hit the woodwork in United’s best chance of the second half, but the English giants were looking sloppy, timorous on the ball, and vulnerable on the counterattack. The Danes were buoyed by this lack of confidence in their illustrious opponents, and took the lead through substitute striker Paul Onuachu, whose 77th-minute strike gave them a famous victory.
Having lost the services of skipper Wayne Rooney earlier in the week, United were dealt a further blow when goalkeeper David De Gea was forced out of the match after suffering a knee injury in the pre-match warm-up.
After taking a few minutes to get going, United had their first poke at goal in the eighth minute when Jesse Lingard slipped it through to Memphis Depay down the inside left channel, but the Dutchman had to stretch to get a foot to it, and Kian Hansen was well placed to get in the block.
The Danes then almost took the lead in the 11th minute, when Kian Hansen eluded Daley Blind as a corner came in and powered a header on target, but Sergio Romero pulled off a one-handed diving save to keep the defender out.
Then on 20 minutes a similar opportunity arose at the other end when the hosts failed to pick up Chris Smalling, who had time and space to meet Blind’s corner at the far post but couldn’t hit the target.
United were beginning to grow into the game and put more pressure on the home side, with Anthony Martial denied a penalty after a mazy run ended with him on the turf, before missing a header when Blind lofted one into the box a few minutes later.
Midtjylland got another chance to hit United on the break after a period of sustained pressure from the English side. They had two players through on goal, but Vaclav Kadlec went for it himself despite having a teammate open, and Romero was there for the save.
The hosts would rue that missed chance just a few seconds later, when Lingard found Memphis in the penalty area. The former PSV star slipped as he tried to control it, but still managed to poke it past Andersen in goal.
As halftime approached Midtjylland found the equaliser through a sloppy back pass from Michael Carrick. Pione Sisto pounced on the uncharacteristic error and finished the job by cutting across the box onto his right foot and drilling a low shot past Romero, via a slight deflection off the shin of Chris Smalling.
United made a bright start in the second half, with Martial setting up Lingard to fire over the bar and Memphis finding Mata with a cross that the Spaniard just couldn’t get on target.
A few minutes later and Ander Herrera picked up the ball on the left flank and picked out Lingard, who had enough space to fire a volley against the crossbar.
But United were lucky to survive a few subsequent scares, with Paul Onuachu forcing Romero into another fine save before Sisto almost got his second of the night at the end of another quick counterattack, as the match swung in the host’s favour.
The Danes then took the lead in the 77th minute, and it was Onuachu who got the goal. The Nigerian had been a real threat since his introduction on the hour mark, and easily brushed Mata aside on the edge of the box before slotting a low shot past Romero.