Erik ten Hag branded Manchester United’s 1-0 win over FC Copenhagen as a “narrow escape” after André Onana’s stoppage time penalty save earned a first Champions League victory — and the team’s first points in Europe — of the season.
United got off the mark in Group A thanks to a second-half header from Harry Maguire and Onana’s late heroics on a night during which fans paid their respects to Sir Bobby Charlton, who died aged 86 on Saturday.
Ten Hag was celebrating after the final whistle as his team recorded a third straight win in all competitions, but the Dutchman admitted afterwards there was an element of fortune involved.
“The first half was not good,” said Ten Hag. “The second half was better and we created more chances and finally the win was justified, but it was a narrow escape.”
Onana has been heavily criticised since his summer move from Inter Milan, making costly errors in United’s opening Champions League defeats to Bayern Munich and Galatasaray.
But the Cameroon goalkeeper produced a wonderful save to stop Jordan Larsson’s penalty, conceded by Scott McTominay in the fifth minute of injury time, with the last action of the night.
“He showed personality,” said Ten Hag. “He knows that before, the levels of what his skills are, he didn’t match his skills and he could do better.
“I think Saturday [against Sheffield United] was a very good performance, today as well. Also, don’t forget that brilliant save just after half-time in the counter-attack.”
As well as Onana, Ten Hag was also grateful for another unlikely hero in Maguire — another target of United supporter angst — who scored his first goal for the club since February, 2022.
“Stepping in passing vertical, defending also on front foot, stepping in defending forward, very confident in the duels, he is dominating, dominating his opponents,” Ten Hag said.
“You see he gets rewarded, it’s a very good skill from him, his heading. I have to say a great pass from Christian [Eriksen] as well and a very good finish.”
Next up for Ten Hag’s side is a Manchester derby with crosstown rivals City on Sunday as United tries to keep their good run of form on track.