Redemption for Maguire and Onana as United wins in Champions League after tributes to Charlton

Tue, Oct 24, 2023
Soccer News (AP)

Redemption for Maguire and Onana as United wins in Champions League after tributes to Charlton

MANCHESTER, England (AP) - A night of remembrance for Bobby Charlton turned into a night of redemption for Harry Maguire and Andre Onana.

Two of Manchester United's most maligned players this season came to the rescue Tuesday with big second-half moments in a 1-0 win over FC Copenhagen that ignited the English team's qualification hopes in the Champions League.

There were boos inside Old Trafford at halftime of the first match at the stadium since the death of Charlton on Saturday, with United's players unable to use emotions stirred by the memory of the club great to make any headway against the group outsiders from Denmark.

The jeers turned to cheers for Maguire when the oft-maligned center back headed home a cross from substitute Christian Eriksen in the 72nd minute.

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Onana, another player under pressure in the early stage of this season, preserved the win with a penalty save off the last kick of the game, clawing away the shot of Jordan Larsson - the son of former United striker Henrik Larsson - that was taken in the seventh minute of stoppage time.

"It was meant to be," Maguire said. "We were meant to win the game - a magnificent save and a win dedicated to Sir Bobby and his family."

After back-to-back losses to open Group A, this was a huge victory for Erik ten Hag's team ahead of the return match against Copenhagen in two weeks.

They are potentially huge moments, too, for Maguire and Onana.

Maguire's United career looked over when he was stripped of the captaincy in the offseason and appeared close to a move to West Ham.

Maguire stayed, has continued to get game time with the England national team, and now seems back in Ten Hag's good books, having started United's last three games in all competitions.

It was his first goal since February 2022 and he looked emotional after planting his downward header into the net at the far post.

"I have been given an opportunity," Maguire said, "and I want to help the team and get the club back to where it should be."

As for Onana, he arrived under pressure to change United's style of play through his distribution from the back. The Cameroon goalkeeper has made a number of high-profile errors, though, leading many to wonder whether United was right to dispense of long-time keeper David de Gea.

This was arguably Onana's best game for United, marked not just by the penalty save after Scott McTominay's foul on Mohamed Elyounoussi but by his wonderful flying stop to keep out Lukas Lerager's powerful drive in the 50th minute.

The evening began and ended with chants of "There's only one Bobby Charlton" swirling around Old Trafford as fans paid their respects to one of England's World Cup winners from 1966 who is widely considered United's greatest player.

There were pre-match tributes to Charlton, including Ten Hag laying a wreath in the center circle before an impeccably observed minute's silence.

"Losing someone like Sir Bobby, it affects the club and the dressing room," Maguire. "But really pleased we could get the win tonight."

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