Goalie Andre Onana, who had a rough beginning to his career at Manchester United, was commended by Erik ten Hag for turning things around in a close Champions League victory over Copenhagen. With losses to Bayern Munich and Galatasaray to start Group A, the Red Devils can ill-afford any mistakes against the Danish champions in Tuesday’s match at Old Trafford. While Onana was guilty of underwhelming performances in those two Champions League defeats, he helped atone in a masterful way during the game’s poignant finale—the first at home since Sir Bobby Charlton’s passing.
The United keeper saved Jordan Larsson’s stoppage-time penalty with what proved to be the last touch of the match, ensuring Harry maguire second-half header sealed a crucial 1-0 win.
“He showed personality and he knows that before was not the levels what his skills are,” manager Ten Hag said of the summer signing from inter millian. “He didn’t match his skills and he could do better.
“I think Saturday (against Sheffield united ) was a very good performance and today as well.
“Also, don’t forget that brilliant save just after half-time in the counter-attack.
“But, of course, that is one of his skills, he is a very good penalty saver.”
Onana’s save sparked wild celebrations at a rocking Old Trafford, where he was mobbed by team-mates before United’s substitutes poured onto the pitch.
“You see there is a very good spirit in the dressing room,” said Ten Hag, who claimed not to have seen Ajejandro Gernacho scuffing the penalty spot.
“They are together, they fight together and they celebrate together.
“If we have setbacks, they support each other. I think that spirit is always needed to be a successful team.”
United have won three straight matches in all competitions despite some unconvincing performances and improvements are needed against reigning Premier League champions manchester city on Sunday.
“First half no good, difficult,” Ten Hag said. “They were well organised, Copenhagen.
“It was difficult to create chances. We didn’t get the right build-up, so we didn’t get the tempo in the game.
“The second half I think was better. In the first half, we got some press on but not in many occasions or in a long period.
“In the second half, both things were better and the build-up was better
“The construction was better, more switches and also we created more chances. I think finally the win was justified but it was a narrow escape.”
This was certainly a let-off for a United side who had the frequently-criticised Maguire to thank as well as Onana.
The defender’s future appeared elsewhere having been stripped of the captaincy during a summer of speculation, but he has now made three straight starts and scored the key goal on Tuesday.
“He is playing much more proactive in possession, stepping in, passing vertical,” the Dutchman said. “Defending also on the front foot, also stepping in, defending forward