Van Gaal blames luck as Man United lose to Middlesbrough

United follow Arsenal in losing to lower league opposition in the League Cup, as they fail to score for second game running

Wayne Rooney
(Image credit: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Manchester United O Middlesbrough 0 [Boro win 3-1 on penalties]

It's been known as the Mickey Mouse Cup for years and the League Cup in its latest guise - the Capital One Cup - has certainly made some of the Premier League big guns look like Mickey Mouse outfits.

On Tuesday night Arsenal and Chelsea were dumped out of the competition by lesser opponents, and on Wednesday Manchester United lost at home to Middlesbrough, currently fourth in the Championship.

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Middlesbrough last played in the Premier League in the 2008-09 season but they were good value for their win, supported as they were by 10,000 fans who had made the journey south to Old Trafford. Stewart Downing almost won the tie for the visitors in normal time only to see his thunderous drive turned over the bar by Sergio Romero, while Boro also had an own goal from Daley Blind disallowed for offside.

United made nine changes to the side that fought out a dour goalless draw with Manchester City on Sunday, but the upheaval did the Red Devils little good as they failed to get on the scoresheet for the second consecutive game. Marouane Fellaini and Andreas Pereira squandered goal-scoring opportunities but neither Memphis Depay nor James Wilson showed much in the way of an attacking threat.

Faced with a penalty shootout United continued to struggle to put the ball in the net with their England trio of Wayne Rooney (who replaced Wilson at half-time), Michael Carrick and Ashley Young all failed to score as Boro keeper Tomas Mejías proved to be the hero of the night.

It was United's fourth successive penalty shootout defeat but manager Louis van Gaal rubbished suggestions it was a facet of the game the club needed to improve. "It is more like the casino, red or black," Van Gaal said. "They were lucky but of course you can force the luck. We trained yesterday on penalties, but it is like that. I cannot take them."

The Capital One Cup is turning into something of a nightmare for Van Gaal with defeat to Boro following last season's humiliation at the hands of the MK Dons. "My feeling is that we were so close, and that we have to finish because we have created a lot of chances, especially in the second half and in extra time," he reflected. "I thought we played very well in the second half and in extra time. We have created a lot of chances but in football it is always the goals that are counting and not the chances."

Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka hailed his team's performance as "amazing", adding: "I told my players after the game that we were better than them - we were more confident on the pitch, we were fitter than them. For that reason, I have to say how proud I am of my players."

Middlesbrough's reward for their giant killing is a home quarter-final against Everton (who beat Norwich 4-2 on penalties) in the week commencing 30 November. In other Capital One Cup results, Jurgen Klopp enjoyed his first win as Liverpool manager as the Reds edged past Bournemouth thanks to a Nathaniel Clyne goal, while Manchester City thrashed Crystal Palace 5-1 with Kevin de Bruyne among the scorers, the Belgian netting his sixth goal in nine games for the Sky Blues.

Quarter-final line-up

Middlesbrough v Everton

Southampton v Liverpool

Stoke City v Sheffield Wednesday

Manchester City v Hull City

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