Manchester United have been knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Middlesbrough following a dramatic penalty shootout at Old Trafford this evening.
Jesse Lingard was lucky to escape punishment early on after he went in studs up on Grant Leadbitter. George Friend then wasted a golden opportunity to put the visitors ahead when he fired straight at Sergio Romero from seven yards out. At the other end of the pitch, United lacked a cutting edge in the face of a well organised Middlesbrough outfit. It took the home side 34 minutes to have their first shot on goal when James Wilson’s tame effort was saved by Tomas Mejias.
Middlesbrough were proving to be more than a match for the hosts and Stewart Downing stung the hands of Sergio Romero with a drive just before half-time. Following the interval, Memphis Depay had a shot saved as United quickened the tempo. It was Middlesbrough who came closest to opening the scoring, however, as Daley Blind’s attempted clearance, which flew into his own net, was ruled out for offside.
Sergio Romero also did his best to score an own goal as he miscontrolled Blind’s backpass. Fortunately for United, the ball dribbled inches wide of the post. United then had a penalty appeal turned down as Matteo Darmian’s cross hit Daniel Ayala’s hand. The game quietened down somewhat but there was some late drama as Lingard came close before Leadbitter and Downing wasted superb chances for the visitors. There was no breakthrough, however, meaning the game headed into extra time. Marouane Fellaini and substitute Anthony Martial spurned the best chances of the added period before Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick and Ashley Young missed their penalties in the shootout as Middlesbrough triumphed.
Wilson was handed his first start of the season against Middlesbrough and it was clear that he wanted to make an impact in the clash.
The forward was lively, showed some good touches and brought his teammates into play. However, he couldn’t produce a killer pass or run in the final third during the first half. His disappointing night was then ended prematurely as he was brought off for Wayne Rooney at half time with what looked like an injury. It was not how Wilson would have imagined the game going but van Gaal will not form his opinion on Wilson based on this sole appearance. He will have plenty more opportunities to impress.
United had the lion’s share of possession at Old Trafford but struggled to create chances.
The attacking quarter of Wilson, Andreas Pereira, Memphis and Lingard worked hard but couldn’t provide a moment of magic to unlock the Middlesbrough defence. Of course, they are all young and all still learning their trade and it would be naive to expect them to hit the ground running, but it was frustrating to watch nonetheless. The signs are there for United’s youngsters, it is just a matter of polishing off their respective games.
The Dutchman has struggled to make an impact at United since his summer move from PSV Eindhoven and his poor form continued against Middlesbrough.
Memphis was never afraid to run at the opposition but he often found himself being blocked or dispossessed. Anthony Martial eventually replaced Memphis after 70 minutes. It wasn’t Memphis’ best day but nobody expected him to be the finished article upon his arrival. He will need time and the backing of the Old Trafford faithful.
Martial really is full of confidence right now and he immediately went about getting United on the front foot upon his introduction late on at Old Trafford.
The Frenchman was in a dangerous mood as he ran at the opposition and made things happen for his side. Unfortunately, he missed a big opportunity in extra time to win United the game. It was a disappointing moment for the youngster but he will bounce back.
Although there was a late flourish in normal time, it always looked like the game would carry on for another 30 minutes following a relatively drab affair.
It meant the game went into penalties and United’s players never looked like they were confident taking them. Rooney, Carrick and Young, who have a wealth of experience between them, all missed while Andreas Pereira was the only United player who tucked his away. Of course, penalties are a lottery but it was almost as if United were beaten before they started.