Manchester United crashed out of the FA Cup this evening after losing on penalties to Championship side Middlesbrough.
Before the match began, the managers each lay a wreath to remember the Busby babes. Sunday 6th marks the 64th anniversary since the Munich disaster which claimed the lives of eight players and three of United’s staff. The players also wore black armbands.
The match got underway and the first chance came within 90 seconds of kick off. A mix up with Boro’s defenders and keeper led to Sancho picking it up on the edge of the area, a lovely strike flew over the keeper’s head and rattled the crossbar.
United looked bright coming out of the winter break. Marcus Rashford had some good link up play with Pogba in the opening five minutes.
Some brilliant play from the whole team, beginning with Rashford and Pogba led to Fernandes with a lovely layover ball to Shaw who crossed to Ronaldo. He was waiting in the middle of the box and went for the bicycle kick, unfortunately it lacked power and the keeper claimed it.
In the 19th minute Paul Pogba was brought down in the area and it was a penalty to United. Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up but missed the target.
Around five minutes later though, it was Sancho, who was having a great game, who put United in front. He made a lovely run on the left which Fernandes had picked out. Sancho received the ball with a cool, calm and collected first touch, took it round a defender and got his shot away.
Boro had their chances though, making some good counter attacks that had the United defenders scrambling to get back, but thankfully they cut attacks out before Henderson had to intervene.
Two beautiful set pieces for United almost doubled their lead. A well-rehearsed corner was played to Rashford, who was unmarked outside of the penalty area. He took a powerful shot that was deflected for another corner. This time it was played short to Sancho, who darted inside the box before laying it off to Rashford who was standing in a similar position to the previous time, but his shot was held by the keeper.
The second half began. United controlled the game well but sat back a little bit. There were still lovely chances for Rashford and Ronaldo, the latter of which found the side netting. The fans on one side of the stadium believed it was in and celebrated prematurely.
In the 57th minute Henderson had his first glimpse of the game with a fantastic save with his top hand to tip it over the bar for a corner.
In a controversial moment of the game, Boro equalised. The ball hit Watmore’s hand, helping to set up the pass for Crooks, who slid in and found the back of the net. VAR took a look and to everyone’s surprise they let the goal stand.
Momentum swung back in Middlesbrough’s favour. United needed to find a way back. Another mix up at the back for Boro allowed Fernandes to shoot at an almost open goal, but he could only find the post.
United needed to be more clinical as Boro kept growing into the game. United would have to face another 30 minutes.
Phil Jones replaced Varane at the break despite Sancho holding his hamstring and asking to be substituted.
The intensity and pace had dropped drastically from United and their chances were getting further away from the target.
It went to penalties and sudden death, eventually it was the eighth penalty taken by youngster Anthony Elanga where United slipped up. He was inconsolable.
His team-mates had plenty of chances during the 120 minutes though, it should never have reached that point.
A dismal season for the Reds goes from bad to worse as they are dumped out of the FA Cup.
Team: Henderson, Pogba (Fred 82), Maguire, Dalot, McTominay, Shaw, Sancho (Mata 100), Rashford (Elanga 82), Ronaldo, Fernandes, Varane (Jones 90)