Copenhagen’s Greek captain Zeca couldn’t contain his admiration for Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the immediate aftermath of Monday’s Europa League matchup between the two sides in Germany.
United progressed to the semi-finals thanks to a single Bruno Fernandes penalty in extra time of their winner-takes-all quarter final after a closely fought affair in which the Danish side’s Swedish goalkeeper Karl-Johan Johnsson performed a series of heroic saves which had threatened to stymie the Red Devils’ recent progression under Solksjaer.
However, upon the final whistle Zeca – the Danish team’s captain and gritty defensive midfielde – couldn’t restrain his admiration for the United boss, thanking him after the final whistle for overseeing the club’s recent resurgence.
“Thanks you very much for everything you’re doing in Manchester,” Zeca said to Solskjaer as the two locked hands.
“Thank you very much for everything you have done in Manchester” – Zeca, captain of FC Copenhagen 🥺 pic.twitter.com/H1kQEHRMn4
— DAZN Canada (@DAZN_CA) August 10, 2020
“We’re trying to get it back,” the Norwegian coach responds. “He’s helping. This boy is helping,” Solskjaer adds, gesturing to United’s Portuguese goalscorer Bruno Fernandes.
“He’s a little bit angry that I was going to take him off. He was giving you the ball all the time.”
Speaking prior to the game, the 31-year-old Zeca – who is of Portuguese extraction – told the media that he grew up as fan of the Manchester club, and has been particularly impressed with the impact of Fernandes who joined United from Sporting Lisbon in January.
“United have been my favourite team since I was little. My dream was to play at Old Trafford, so it’s a bit of a shame that we play in Germany,” he said.
“I love Bruno Fernandes. He is really good, and one player cannot shut him down, so we must work well together as a team to succeed.”
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For long spells of the game, it appeared as if he had succeeded. United had several gilt-edged chances throughout the 90 minutes, hitting the post on several occasions and also forcing an array of outstanding saves from Johnsson. They had chances to take the lead too, with Rasmus Falk particularly impressive but ex-Everton player Bryan Oviedo was guilty of missing two strong opportunities.
But for Zeca, Copenhagen’s elimination from Europe comes with a silver lining – he gets to see his boyhood club take part in their first European semi-final since Jose Mourinho took United to the Europa League crown in 2017.