'Pathetic': Football world fumes over Manchester United 'disgrace'

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Manchester United's Cristiano missed a penalty and his side was on the back of a VAR controversy in a chastening FA Cup loss to Middlesbrough. Pic: Getty/ESPN)
Manchester United's Cristiano missed a penalty and his side was on the back of a VAR controversy in a chastening FA Cup loss to Middlesbrough. Pic: Getty/ESPN)

Interim Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick says wasteful Manchester United only have themselves to blame after making an embarrassing early FA Cup exit at home to Middlesbrough in the fourth round.

However, the German joined a chorus of anger across the football world by questioning how Middlesbrough's contentious equaliser was allowed to stand.

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Jadon Sancho put United into a deserved lead after Cristiano Ronaldo uncharacteristically missed a penalty, but their continued profligacy in front of goal gave the visitors a chance to claw their way back.

Matt Crooks, a former United youth player and life-long fan, levelled in the second half through a controversial goal that struck the hand of Duncan Watmore before he crossed.

Replayed clearly showed the ball hit the 'Borough player's hand before he provided the assist for the goal, but astonishingly VAR failed to overturn the goal.

“Incredibly disappointed, we should have won and killed off the game in the first half. Crossbar, post, missed penalty and numerous chances. It should have been 2-0 or 3-0," Rangnick said after the match.

“We conceded a goal which I don’t understand why it stood. He controlled it with his hand.

“In the moment when they scored, it was clear that VAR would not allow this goal to stand. We were not well positioned in that moment, too open and allowed them the counter, we should have won the game.

Viewers were incensed by the Middlesbrough goal and took to social media in droves to slam VAR over the controversy.

United squandered several chances to win the match in normal time with Bruno Fernandes somehow hitting the post when he looked certain to score.

The match ended 1-1 and remained so after extra time, with United striker Anthony Elanga's missed penalty eventually sealing Boro an 8-7 shoot-out win to the delight of the 9,500 visiting fans.

Manchester United left to rue missed chances

"Bruno's chance was almost like a penalty as well, so we have to blame ourselves for giving away and wasting too many opportunities in the game.

"And, in the end, if it's on penalties it's also a question of luck and in the end we lost that game and we are all incredibly disappointed."

Elanga was consoled by Ronaldo, among others, after his penalty miss, with supportive fans singing his name at the end of a night when Edinson Cavani and Jesse Lingard were absent.

The Uruguay striker was given additional time off after international duty and Rangnick said Lingard requested time to clear his head after a January exit was blocked - something the player has denied.

Asked if he regrets those decisions, the United boss said: "No, because he played for Uruguay on Wednesday.

Seen here, Jonny Howson of Middlesbrough celebrates at full time of the FA Cup victory against Manchester United.
Jonny Howson of Middlesbrough celebrates at full time of the FA Cup victory against Manchester United. Pic: Getty

"With the jet lag and the travel arrangements, I don't think it would have made sense. He would not have been in the squad anyway.

"And with regard to Jesse, I told you what my information was and my knowledge was, and of course I would have loved to have Jesse in the squad."

United's FA Cup exit means they now only have an outside chance of ending their five-year wait for a trophy with the Champions League their only route to silverware.

As for Boro, manager Wilder is delighted to be in Sunday's fifth-round draw after a night of grit and drama.

"The FA Cup's alive and kicking, especially in Middlesbrough tonight," he said. "The scenes at the end. I spoke to the players about making memories.

"We were up against world-class players and rode our luck at times, but we showed plenty of spirit and took one of our opportunities."

with AAP

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