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Manchester United Suffer Shock FA Cup Shoot-Out Exit Against Middlesbrough

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Ralf Rangnick claimed VAR stole Manchester United after his side suffered a shock FA Cup elimination at the hands of Championship club Middlesbrough, who won 8-7 on penalties after drawing 1-1 on Friday. Rangnick’s side crashed out in the fourth round after Anthony Elanga lobbed his penalty over the crossbar in a thrilling shoot-out at Old Trafford. Swedish teenager Elanga was the only player from either team to miss in the penalty shootout, leaving the forward in disbelief as Middlesbrough celebrated their impressive victory.

Jadon Sancho had put United ahead in the first half, but Matt Crooks scored a controversial equalizer after the interval to set the stage for Middlesbrough’s memorable upset.

Crooks’ goal held despite Duncan Watmore controlling the ball with his hand before providing the assist.

“We conceded a goal that I don’t understand why he stayed. He controlled it with his hand,” Rangnick said.

“At the moment they scored it was clear that VAR would not allow this goal to stand.”

Even Middlesbrough boss Chris Wilder thought the goal would be ruled out, saying: “I immediately thought it was handball.

“I thought it would be scrapped and I was delighted it wasn’t. The FA Cup is alive and well!”

Cristiano Ronaldo had missed a first-half penalty for United, who have now missed seven of their last eight penalty kicks, including last season’s Europa League final against Villarreal.

United fired 30 shots in total but lacked the composure and edge needed to finish off supposedly inferior opponents.

“I am incredibly disappointed,” Rangnick said. “We should have won and finished the game in the first half.

“The crossbar, the post, the missed penalty and many chances. It should have been 2-0 or 3-0.”

United have not won a major trophy in five years and their hopes of ending that drought are dimming due to their Premier League woes and a tricky Champions League round of 16 tie against Atletico Madrid.

The FA Cup embarrassment is the latest hammer blow for United at the end of a painful week in which their England striker Mason Greenwood was arrested for the alleged rape and assault of a young woman.

While still in custody, the 20-year-old was rearrested Tuesday on suspicion of sexual assault and death threats.

Greenwood, who was released on bail on Wednesday, has been suspended from all football activities at United since the arrest that shocked Old Trafford.

Rejected Opportunities

Wilder planned a shock 2-1 win on his last visit to Old Trafford with Sheffield United.

Initially, it looked like there was little chance of a repeat as Sancho hit the crossbar after Middlesbrough had cleared in the second minute.

Paul Pogba was making his first start for United since November 2 after recovering from a thigh injury.

And the France midfielder heralded his return by winning a penalty in the 20th minute when he ran into a pass from Luke Shaw and was brought down by Anfernee Dijksteel.

Ronaldo dragged his penalty wide to the delight of the 9,000 Middlesbrough fans behind the goal.

But Sancho gave United the lead in the 25th minute, taking in stride a long Bruno Fernandes pass with an excellent first touch and deftly working the space to drill a ferocious shot that deflected past Isiah Jones.

Middlesbrough snatched the equalizer in the 64th minute when Watmore controlled a long pass with his hand as the ball bounced off his body, before launching a pass to United academy graduate Crooks at the far post.

Convinced the goal should be disallowed, United surrounded referee Anthony Taylor to protest, but VAR allowed it to stand as the infringement was deemed accidental under a new rule introduced last year.

Fernandes missed a golden opportunity to regain the lead, firing into the post with an empty goal in front of him.

United had lost their footing and Elanga was destined to end up as the scapegoat.

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