Manchester United were knocked out of the Emirates FA Cup after losing 8-7 on penalties to Middlesbrough at Old Trafford, following a 1-1 draw at the stadium on Friday.
Even though Ralf Rangnick’s team dominated the game throughout, they were ultimately punished in a tight penalty shootout when, after the first 15 penalties had all been converted, United teenager Anthony Elanga rocketed over to send the crowd of 9,000 to its feet.
Despite United’s dominance, Jadon Sancho’s 25th-minute goal, which came shortly after Cristiano Ronaldo missed a penalty, was a paltry return for their efforts, with both Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford sharing the blame for missing excellent opportunities.
Chris Wilder’s Boro, on the other hand, managed to keep themselves in the game and equalized in the 64th minute through former United junior player Matt Crooks, who scored from close range.
Soon after, Bruno Fernandes somehow managed to hit the post with the goal gaping, and United then pounded away at Boro’s defense in extra time, all to no avail.
Boro then shown remarkable calmness with their penalties, sending the 12-time FA Cup champions plummeting out of the competition.
Boro’s six goal attempts were a hammer blow to United, who will be perplexed as to why they were not included in the fifth round despite having 30 attempts to Boro’s six.
“Incredibly disappointed, we should have won and killed off the game in the first half,” Rangnick said.
“Crossbar, ùpost, missed penalty and numerous chances. It should have been 2-0 or 3-0.”
United came close to taking the lead in the first minute as Sancho’s shot hit the top of the crossbar before Bruno Fernandes’ close-range effort went wide. After that, they appeared to be on their way to victory when Boro’s Anfernee Dijksteel carelessly took down Paul Pogba, giving Ronaldo the opportunity to score from the penalty spot.
After taking a stride forward, the Portuguese striker pulled his right-footed effort wide of the post.
Sancho controlled a Fernandes feed and his angled drive passed Boro keeper Joe Lumley with a tiny deflection, it appeared that United were in complete command.
However, Ronaldo, who was having a bad night, squandered a fantastic opportunity by shooting straight at Lumley, while Rashford had a goal disallowed and was twice denied by the keeper in the second half.
After Rashford volleyed over from Sancho’s cutback, Ronaldo hit the side-netting with a snap shot to complete the sequence in the second half.
Boro’s confidence began to build, and he was able to level under somewhat dubious circumstances.
Duncan Watmore controlled a lofted pass at the far post clearly with the aid of his arm before lofting the ball goalwards for Crooks to complete the scoring. A VAR review then upheld the goal, which was made possible by a change to the handball rule that was implemented this season.
Boro were re-energized and created many chances to go ahead before United grabbed control once more. Fernandes was responsible for the biggest miss of the night when he was presented with an unguarded goal following a defensive mix-up, but his effort brushed the outside of the post and went out.
Even though it was late in the game, Elanga had a chance to win it with a header that went straight at Lumley. His crazy penalty summed up an otherwise disappointing night for United, but a memorable one for Middlesbrough, who kicked off the FA Cup weekend in style.
“The FA Cup is alive and kicking, especially in Middlesbrough,” said Wilder, whose Sheffield United team won at Old Trafford in the Premier League last season.
“I told the players it was all about making memories.”