Cristiano Ronaldo missed a penalty and the hosts had numerous chances to win before losing to Middlesbrough on penalties.
Manchester United will blame their FA Cup defeat on a stupid handball ruling, but the only people to blame are they.
Ralf Rangnick’s camp is justified in feeling aggrieved. Even after Duncan Watmore handled the ball in the build-up to Matt Crooks’ goal, it looked absurd that the goal should have been allowed to stand.
The officials ruled it an accident, but everyone in the Old Trafford crowd saw the Middlesbrough substitute stretch his left hand towards the ball to control it before passing to Crooks for the finish.
In the tunnel, Cristiano Ronaldo comforted him while Boro players and their 9,000 traveling fans celebrated. It could have been a different tale had Portugal’s international miss his own penalty in the first half.
His shot went wide of the target, and he was a liability rather than a helper for most of the game.
First-half dominance by United could have warranted Dean Henderson, making his first start under Rangnick, bringing a flask and a sleeping bag with him. In the first half alone, the home side mustered 14 shots, six of which were on goal, despite the fact that they were playing against a team from the Premier League.
There were encouraging signs from Paul Pogba’s return and Jadon Sancho’s best display in a United shirt. However, it wasn’t enough to satisfy my needs. A number of opportunities were squandered.
At half-time, they would have had the game wrapped up with Sancho hitting the bar in two minutes, Ronaldo missing a penalty, and Marcus Rashford having a goal disallowed by the offside flag — all before the visitors had ever fired a shot.
Ronaldo, who had a horrible game, was enraged by every missed opportunity. When it comes to his decision to return to the club, he’ll have done little to persuade those who doubted it that it was a good one.
His failure to meet expectations wasn’t unique; others also failed. To win, United requires strong leadership, something they lacked on this gloomy evening at Old Trafford.
The second half was a complete contrast to their impressive first-half performance. Despite the fact that they had 25 shots on target, they lacked innovation and originality. Rangnick has made improvements to the defense, but it doesn’t appear that they are gelling as well going forward.
United’s main issue right now is that, barring a European miracle, they appear destined to finish yet another season without a trophy. Having already been eliminated from the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup, they find themselves battling for fourth place in the Premier League. Atletico Madrid is their sole hope of winning a trophy in the Champions League, where they are in the final 16.
A season that began with talk of mounting numerous significant challenges has now dwindled down to a single remote possibility of a trophy.
They are solely responsible for their own actions.