Ten Hag hails Manchester United’s fighting spirit and ‘personality’ of Onana

Erik ten Hag hailed Manchester United’s team spirit after André Onana’s last-minute penalty save secured a 1-0 victory against Copenhagen in the Champions League.

The entire substitutes bench ran on to the pitch to celebrate after Onana had palmed Jordan Larsson’s spot‑kick wide with the last touch of the game. United had taken the lead through Harry Maguire’s header in the 72nd minute and a draw would have put the hosts in a perilous position. The win, on the other hand, will be a boost going into the second half of the group stage.

Ten Hag said: “There is a very good spirit in the dressing room, they are together, they fight together, they celebrate together and if we have setbacks they support each other. I think that spirit is always needed to be a successful team. The win was justified but it was a narrow escape.”

Onana has received plenty of criticism since arriving from Internazionale in the summer and his heroics on an emotional night at Old Trafford, as those here inside paid tribute to the late Sir Bobby Charlton, could be a turning point. “He showed personality,” Ten Hag said of the goalkeeper.

“He knows the levels and what his skills are and he hadn’t matched his skills and could do better but it was a very good performance on Saturday and tonight. He is a very good penalty saver.”

Maguire has also been much maligned in recent times but he started for the third successive game, the first time he has done so under Ten Hag, rewarding his manager with the winner and a calm performance at the back.

Ten Hag said: “He is playing much more proactively in possession, stepping in, passing vertical and defending on the front foot, very confident in the duels, I think he is dominating his opponents. It was a very good goal from him, a great pass from Christian but a very good finish.”

United face difficult trips to Copenhagen and then Istanbul to play Galatasaray in their next two Champions League matches before finishing at home against Bayern Munich.

Jacob Neestrup, Copehagen’s head coach, departed from Manchester a frustrated figure. “We cannot do anything more today and I would not play the game in any different way,” he said. “We did enough to draw and win the game.”

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