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Maguire, Onana Man United's unlikely heroes in first Champions League win

Manchester, England: HarryMaguireheaded a second-half goal and goalkeeper AndreOnanasaved a penalty deep in stoppage time to power Manchester United to a1-0victory over FCCopenhagenon Tuesdayfortheirfirstvictory in theChampionsLeaguethis season.

“Of course it is incredible and a great night,” United manager Erik ten Hag said. “Especially in the dying second when you concede a penalty, but a brilliant save from AndreOnana.”

Back in the competition after a one-year absence, Ten Hag’s side moved into third place in Group A after collecting a precious threepointsafter three games. Bayern Munich top the group with ninepointsafter beating Galatasary 3-1earlier.

The victory looked in doubt whenCopenhagen’s Jordan Larsson – son of former Celtic striker Henrik – stepped up to the spot after Scott McTominay attempted a clearance and caught Elias Achouri in the head with a high boot in the 94th minute. ButOnanadived to his left to push the shot away before being mobbed by team mates at the final whistle.

“I’m just doing my job, the most important thing is to win against a tough team,”Onanatold TNT Sports. “I am happyforthe victory, we did a good game and a big goal from Harry.

“We are Manchester United. We are a big club, big players. It’s just a matter of time, now we have to continue like this. I have no doubt we will make it.”

Maguire, who has been the target of fan abuse in recent months, had the Old Trafford faithful on their feet when he broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute, Christian Eriksen’s long ball into the area finding the defender at the far post.

“It is amazing,”Maguiresaid on the fans chanting his name. “When you are not on your game it gets picked up, but I am really proud and pleased how I have acted over this six to 12 months.

“I have been given an opportunity and I want to help the team and get the club back to where it should be.”

A night that began on a solemn note with a tribute to club great Bobby Charlton, who died on Saturday at age 86, ended in celebration with fans singing “There’s only one Bobby Charlton”.

The victory was United’sfirstin theChampionsLeaguesince a 2-0away win at Villarreal on Nov. 23, 2021.

United have had a mixed start to their season and they struggled to begin with on Tuesday with a sloppyfirsthalf of poor passing and missed tackles that earned them boos from the home crowd at halftime.

There was a string of several near misses in a five-minute stretch after the break that seemed to suggest a goal might be coming, including a breakaway by Marcus Rashford that he ran out of play after one touch too hard.

A few minutes later, Alejandro Garnacho had fans on their feet when he was sent in behindCopenhagen’s back line, but a heavy touch from the Argentine allowed goalkeeper Kamil Grabara to snatch the ball.

It was left to defenderMaguireto grab the goal that secured the win.

“We were better in thefirsthalf,” saidCopenhagenmanager Jacob Neestrup. “(United) started the second half better, but the last 15 minutes was equal again. We are that close, to keep the game alive that late in the game.”

United travel toCopenhagenon Nov. 8.

(Published 25 October 2023, 02:58 IST)

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