There is something about penalty shootouts against Middlesbrough that appear to cause Manchester United to stumble.
For the second time in just over six years, United’s involvement in a domestic cup competition has been ended by the Championship side, losing 8-7 on penalties in the fourth round of the FA Cup at Old Trafford on Friday evening, after the contest ended 1-1 at the end of 120 minutes.
Following 15 successive penalties, Anthony Elanga was guilty of missing the first and only penalty of the shootout, meaning United’s only hope of winning a trophy this season now remains on their Champions League adventure, which continues against Atletico Madrid later this month.
Jadon Sancho handed United a first-half lead before Middlesbrough, who had survived a wave of Reds pressure prior to the halftime interval, drew level in controversial circumstances through Matt Crooks’ close-range finish, after the ball had struck the hand of Duncan Watmore .
On what proved to be an action-packed evening at Old Trafford, here are five moments you might have missed:
Rangnick and Wilder remember Munich
Ahead of kick-off, United interim manager Ralf Rangnick and Middlesbrough chief Wilder walked out of the Stretford End tunnel side by side, each clutching wreaths in remembrance of the Munich Air Disaster.
As they walked down the touchline towards their respective technical areas, they chatted and smiled, but the details of the conversation, of course, are not known.
Once they each reached their respective positions on the sideline, they each laid their wreaths, took a step back and bowed, a sign of respect in remembrance of the 23 people, including eight United players, who lost their lives on that fateful day in February 1958.
Ronaldo looks to the heavens
When Ronaldo prepared to step up and try and hand United a 20th-minute lead, the club’s social media team would have no doubt had their Ronaldo ‘goal graphic’ in front of them and would have been ready to hit ‘Tweet’.
Instead, they were forced to write about a miss. The Portuguese star, against all of the odds, dragged his penalty wide of the left-hand post, sending a wave of disbelief around Old Trafford, whilst more than 9,000 traveling Middlesbrough went absolutely bananas.
Ronaldo, meanwhile, put his hands over his eyes before turning around, looking up to the heavens and screaming in frustration. He also had a little look over his shoulder at the penalty spot, suggesting that a slight bobble might have played a part in denying him his 15th goal of the season.
However, Paul Pogba was the only one of his team-mates to console him in the immediate aftermath of the miss, giving him a slight pat on the back after running up to him.
Sancho and Pogba’s bond
Back in the squad for the first time in November, Pogba made himself central to the goal celebrations following Sancho’s 25th minute opener.
After Sancho had wheeled away to the far side and been mobbed by his team-mates, he turned to Pogba and the pair of them engaged in a heart-warming hug, before celebrating with a special handshake.
It was clear that the goal meant the world to both of them.
Pogba, it seemed, had a point to prove on his return to the starting line-up and he looked extremely happy celebrating Sancho’s third goal of the season. The Frenchman was substituted with 82 minutes on the clock and replaced by Fred.
United fans’ vent their anger at the Glazer family
As the final minutes of the first half faded away, any United supporter wanting to grab a half-time pie or beer saw the hopes snatched away from them, with Old Trafford’s payment systems suffering a “technical fault.”
An announcement on the Public Address system said: “Due to a technical fault we will be unable to sell any food or beverages at half-time. We apologize for any inconvenience caused.”
Within seconds of the announcement finishing, thousands of United’s supporters started chanting: ‘We want Glazers out’. The chant continued right the way through to referee Anthony Taylor putting his whistle to his lips and beyond, with the supporters furious with another error being experienced, further escalating the need for renovation work to be done at Old Trafford.
It was later discovered that the food payment systems in the Stretford End were not working prior to kick-off as well.
United stars and Rangnick console Elanga
After 15 successful penalties between them in the shoot-out that followed 120 minutes of action, United’s hopes of staying in the FA Cup rested with youngster Elanga.
However, the Swede, under enormous pressure, fired his effort high over the bar, securing Middlesbrough’s route to round-five for the first time since 2017.
Whilst Middlesbrough goalkeeper Joe Lumley raced towards the Boro fans at the other end of the pitch, Elanga turned back towards his team-mates, only to see Fred running towards him. The Brazilian was first on the scene to console the youngster, as both Harry Maguire and Phil Jones followed not too far behind him.
Rangnick and Bruno Fernandes then joined them in consoling the 19-year-old, who has been terrific in recent weeks.
Ronaldo also arrived on the scene and put an arm around him, before patting him on the head gently, as a sign of encouragement, as they headed down the tunnel.
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