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Blew it too soon: Man Utd-Copenhagen game's early halftime whistle draws snark; other times this has happened

The Champions League fixture between Manchester United and Copenhagen saw the erstwhile English giants put up a rather lacklustre performance against the Danish side, though a late goal from Harry Maguire and an even later penalty conceded by Scott McTominay, which was eventually saved by Andre Onana, made the group stage match a cracking watch nonetheless.

However, in the first half there was a moment of confusion as the referee blew the whistle before the 45 minutes were up on the clock, let alone allowing any stoppage time in the first half.

While there has been no official reason given for this, the move sparked a flurry of reactions on social media.

Most users criticized United’s play, saying the ‘referee got bored’ and blew the whistle.

“The referee got bored and he blew the whistle before time. Man utd is seriously playing like secondary school boys, no passion, very boring game” one user said on X (formerly Twitter).

Another added, “Even the referee had to blow the halftime whistle few seconds early because he was bored of the ball kicking around.”

United didn’t look the stronger side in the first half as Copenhagen took the game to the hosts, managing excellent passages of play but coming up short in front of the goal. This was their story in the second half as well, in a match that was very well headed towards a draw until United found some respite in an unexpected place with out of favour centre back Harry Maguire heading one past the Danish side’s keeper.

The Red Devils’ new hero Scott McTominay carried forth his streak of conceding penalties over from the last game against Sheffield and conceded one in final moment of the Champions League fixture. However, United had another hero waiting for his time to shine.

The new goalkeeper, much criticized for his string of gaffes since joining, stepped up and saved the penalty, giving Erik ten Hag’s side their first win in the European competition.

The news of the refereeing oddity was perhaps eclipsed by the events of the night, but this is not the first time a referee has blown the whistle before time is up.

The nearest notable instance was in 2022 during the AFCON game between Mali and Tunisia where the referee blew the final whistle early twice during the game, eventually bringing it to a close 11 seconds before 90 minutes were up.

In 2016, a referee ended a match in the 75th minute because it was too cold. The referee cited ‘atmospheric reasons’ for the early conclusion of the game in the sixth level of the Spanish football league.

These instances go back as far as 1930, where in the inaugural World Cup France faced Argentina and the referee blew for full-time just as France was about to equalize. Though the game was restarted, the Frenchmen couldn’t find the back of the net and lost 1-0.

In 1975, during a match between SV Werder Bremen and Hannover 96 the referee blew for half-time after 32 minutes of play. Even after he resumed, the referee ended the first half a minute early.

(Published 25 October 2023, 16:47 IST)

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