Match Report: Manchester United 1-1 Middlesbrough (7-8 Penalties)

After the long 14-day break, Manchester United hosted Middlesbrough in the 4th round of the FA Cup. For the first time in 2021, the United Starting XI included Paul Pogba who has missed the last 15 matches, as well as Dean Henderson, who was rumored to be looking at leaving the club during the January Transfer, made his fifth appearance this season. In addition, Academy standout and Tunisian midfielder, Hannibal Mejbri, made his 2022 first team debut on the bench but was not selected as a substitute.

The club was without a few regular squad members, including Donny van de Beek and Anthony Martial who saw loan moves to Everton and Sevilla respectfully. Manchester United also played without Mason Greenwood, who has been suspended indefinitely following his arrest late last month.

Ralf Rangnick not only made personnel changes, but also to the formation. Traditionally using the 4-2-2-2, Manchester United lined up in a 4-3-3, which may due to the lack of depth in the midfield and not addressing that issue during the transfer window. It is also worth noting that Rangnick returned the Captain’s armband back to Harry Maguire after a being without it after just one game.

Story of the Game:

Coming into the match, United were heavy favorites against the Championship League club but missed opportunity after missed opportunity made this a much closer game, ultimately leading to extra time before Manchester United would be defeated.

The first half saw the Devils control the game and win the possession battle, but was also inundated with miss chance after miss chance, scoring just once out of 2.27 expected goals. The most egregious error came in the 20th minute when Cristiano Ronaldo missed wide left on a penalty kick and leaving the game scoreless. Shortly there after, Jadon Sancho would answer the call and find the back of the net after a marvelous pass from Bruno Fernandes from the middle of the pitch.

Embed from Getty Images

The second half was much of the same as the first, good and creative ball movement down the pitch but sloppy with the final touch. Within the first half of the second 45, Manchester bottled three likely goals when they just had the keeper to beat, two by Ronaldo, one by Fernandes, and one by Marcus Rashford. During that stretch, Middlesbrough took advantage of the abundance of missed opportunities, scoring on what many will think should have been a disallowed goal by the aptly named, Matt Crooks.

Embed from Getty Images

With tired legs, a scoreless extra time took the match to penalties. From there Manchester United would be eliminated from the FA Cup in a 8-round shootout after Anthony Elenga failed to convert from the spot, sending Middlesbrough onto the fifth round and taking Manchester United’s chance at another trophy with them.

Just Finish.

There were plenty of calls, or in some instances – the lack of a call, that kept Manchester United from winning this match, but ultimately, Manchester United simply could not find the net. It cannot be understated just how many chances Manchester had to score and managed to make Middlesbrough goalkeeper, Joe Lumley, look like 2010 Iker Casillas.

Embed from Getty Images

It continues to look as though the club mills around until things get desparate and then panic ensues, cohesity lost, and the squad no longer play as a team. Tonight’s match is just another embarrassing defeat to mark a season that plagued with disappointment. The only silver-lining with an early exit from the FA Cup is that the club can spend more time training, and by the looks of it, it’s desperately needed.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: