Sports

Wasteful Manchester United knocked out of FA Cup in shootout

Middlesbrough celebrated a famous penalty kicks shootout victory at Old Trafford on Friday after Anthony Elanga’s miss saw Manchester United make an embarrassing early exit from the FA Cup.

The competition’s fourth round got off to a stunning start as the Premier League giants arguably saw their last realistic hope of silverware this season extinguished by Chris Wilder’s Championship outfit.

Jadon Sancho opened the scoring for Ralf Rangnick’s star-studded side, but lifelong Manchester United fan Matt Crooks levelled and the match finished 1-1 after extra-time.

Every penalty kick found the net until Elanga struck his into the Stretford End, wrapping up an 8-7 penalty kick success for Boro and sending the 9,500 visiting fans wild.

Few could have seen the match going the distance given the way Manchester United started.

Sancho hit the crossbar inside 80 seconds of a one-sided first half in which he would fire the hosts ahead via a slight Isaiah Jones defection.

That was shortly after Cristiano Ronaldo’s penalty kick miss.

Boro had looked limited but the hosts’ profligacy hurt them and Duncan Watmore crossed for fellow former Manchester United youth player Crooks to score in front of the raucous travelling Teessiders.

Most of those inside the stadium expected the goal to be ruled out for Watmore’s handball in the build-up, but it was apparently deemed accidental by both referee and VAR.

Fernandes inexplicably managed to hit a post with the goal at his mercy and the match went to extra-time and then penalty kicks, with Elanga’s missed kick the difference.

The build-up to Friday’s match was dominated by Manchester United forward Mason Greenwood’s arrest and subsequent release on bail.

The 20-year-old remains suspended by the club and no signs of him were visible around Old Trafford.

His shirts were not stocked and his name was removed from the back of the programme.

Greenwood was among the changes to Manchester United’s last match, with Paul Pogba the headline incoming name as he returned from a three-month injury lay-off.

Manchester United flew out of the blocks and Sancho sent a fine effort onto the crossbar following an early mix-up in the Boro defence.

It would have been a brilliant goal, as would the Ronaldo efforts that soon followed before the normally reliable frontman wasted a far easier chance in the 20th minute.

Boro defender Anfernee Dijksteel slipped in the box and brought down Pogba, leading referee Anthony Taylor to point to the penalty kick spot.

Camera phones were at the ready as Ronaldo stepped up, only for the star to strike his penalty kick wide.

Boro celebrated, but within five minutes their goal was breached.

Pogba intercepted and Fernandes fired over to Sancho on the left, with the summer signing showing nice footwork before hitting a drive that went in via a touch from Jones.

Manchester United quickly hunted for another goal.

Ronaldo threatened as Fernandes pulled the strings, with visiting goalkeeper Joe Lumley relieved to see the offside flag raised when a Rashford strike squirmed through.

There were further attempts before half-time, when fans were informed a technical fault would prevent them from buying food or drink.

Chants calling for the Glazer family to leave greeted that update.

Boro were lucky to still be in the tie at half-time, given a wayward Folarin Balogun strike was all they had managed, but Manchester United continued in an inefficient fashion.

As Manchester United toiled at one end, Boro were beginning to unsettle at the other.

Dean Henderson did well to prevent Crooks scoring from a Jones cutback and soon the Manchester United fan would have a moment to cherish.

Manchester United’s defence were caught out of position as Jones swung over to open Watmore on the left, with the substitute crossing for Crooks to turn home.

The Boro midfielder wheeled off in full-hearted celebrations that, to the surprise of most inside the ground, were not shortlived given Watmore’s handled in the build-up.

Manchester United looked punch-drunk after the concession and play became stretched, although the home side were still creating more.

Rashford was denied and Fernandes inexplicably failed to score when cutting out Lumley’s poor pass on the edge of the penalty box.

The Portugal playmaker firing against the post with the goal at his mercy.

Fernandes dragged wide as frustration grew, with Elanga heading straight at Lumley from a stoppage-time Fred cross as the match went to extra time.

Neither side managed a clear-cut chance in the first half of additional time as the players visibly tired.

Fernandes headed narrowly over in the second period of extra time.

Henderson came to the rescue in the 115th minute to prevent Aaron Connolly flicking home before the match went to spot-kicks.

Every effort found the net until Elanga missed the target, sparking jubilant celebrations from all connected to Boro.

The Manchester United academy graduate was consoled by team-mates as fans sung his name.

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