Middlesbrough inflict penalty defeat on Manchester United

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Now, this was a proper cup-tie. End-to-end, chances, near misses. All it lacked was goals.

In a game littered with chances, it seems unfortunate and a little unfair that was decided by the dreaded penalty shoot-out. Penalties are always exciting and enjoyable. Almost always.

If it's your team, they are nerve wrecking and based purely on luck. Of course, spot kicks are a skill but surely one which professional players should be able to master?


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Three big international players missed for United at Old Trafford. Many, many caps between them and included the captain for club and country. They all also happened to be Englishmen, which is obviously entirely coincidental.

Back to the game itself, Manchester United came into the tie off the back of a respectable 0-0 draw with their city rivals, also at Old Trafford. Meanwhile, Middlesbrough sit fourth in the Championship and were fresh from a solid 3-1 win away at Wolves.

United played possession football, but without any real penetration. They struggled to get in behind Boro's back-line and, at times, looked slow and laboured.

Memphis Depay and James Wilson did themselves no favours with their lacklustre displays. While the selection of Marouane Fellaini in midfield is open to criticism, he appears - at best - to be an option b and at worst, a target to hit when everything else has failed.

Critics argue it is simply not the way United should be playing. Jesse Lingard was one of the few players in red to come out of the match with any sort of credit. He had United's best chance and saw his excellent drive from a tight angle smash back off of the near post.

Boro, on the other hand, played counter attacking football and showed real promise at times. Stewart Downing looked lively and was a threat on the break, his drive was one of the away side's best chances and was only kept out by a fine stop from Sergio Romero.

The ball did cross the line at one point during the 120 minutes; a Daley Blind own 'goal' which was chalked off for an offside against Kike. Middlesbrough defended their goal well with former Liverpool centre-back Daniel Ayala in particularly fine form, making several crucial tackles and blocks.

A thoroughly entertaining game was very much end-to-end in extra time and either team could have won it. Penalties were needed, however, and Middlesbrough's players were able to keep their hands and convert, with Grant Leadbitter, Stewart Downing and Ben Gibson all scoring their kicks. David Nugent missed his, but it didn't matter as Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick and Ashley Young all missed for United.

Middlesbrough were drawn at home against Everton in the next round and will fancy their chances after a decent display here.

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