Football: Rangnick baffled by Boro's handball goal as Man U exit FA Cup on penalties

Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes (centre) and Ralf Rangnick (right) console Swedish striker Anthony Elanga, after his penalty miss gave victory to Middlesbrough. PHOTO: AFP

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM (AFP, REUTERS) - Manchester United suffered a shock FA Cup fourth-round exit as Championship club Middlesbrough won 8-7 on penalties after a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford on Friday (Feb 4).

Ralf Rangnick's side crashed out after Anthony Elanga blazed his spot-kick over the bar in a nerve-jangling shoot-out.

Swedish teenager Elanga was the only player from either team to miss in the shoot-out, leaving the forward holding his head in disbelief as Middlesbrough celebrated their stunning victory.

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

In the 64th minute, Duncan Watmore had controlled a long pass with his hand as the ball bounced off his body, before lofting a pass over Dean Henderson for the sliding Crooks to net 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 offence was deemed to be accidental under a new rule introduced last year.

While Rangnick lamented his side’s profligacy, he was understandably miffed by Boro’s equaliser.

“How can it be accidental if he controls the ball up in the air with his hand? It was clear it should not stand but in the end, I was really surprised it stood,” he said.

“We conceded a goal which I don’t understand why it stood.

"He controlled it with his hand. In the moment when they scored, it was clear that VAR would not allow this goal to stand.”

The handball rule was tweaked for this season and now states “if an attacking player’s accidental handball immediately precedes another player scoring, the goal will now be awarded”.

Even Boro boss Wilder was surprised the goal had been allowed to stand after a VAR check.

“We rode our luck and took our chances. The decisions that are made through VAR have changed since I left the Premier League – I thought straight away it was handball,” he said.

“I thought it would be chalked out and delighted it wasn’t.”

Cristiano Ronaldo had missed a first half spot-kick for United, who have now lost seven of their last eight penalty shoot-outs, including last season's Europa League final against Villarreal.

United are without a major trophy in five years and their hopes of ending that drought are dwindling given their Premier League struggles and a tricky Champions League last 16 tie against Atletico Madrid.

The FA Cup embarrassment is the latest hammer blow for United at the end of a painful week that saw their England forward Mason Greenwood arrested over the alleged rape and assault of a young woman.

While still in custody, the 20-year-old was further arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of sexual assault and threats to kill.

England international Greenwood, who was released on bail on Wednesday, has been suspended from all football activities at United since his arrest.

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