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Ralf Rangnick bemused by controversial handball decision as Manchester United crash out of FA Cup

Middlesbrough celebrated a famous penalty shoot-out victory at Old Trafford after Anthony Elanga’s miss saw United make an embarrassing early exit from the FA Cup.

Marcus Tavernier of Middlesbrough celebrates after beating Manchester United on penalties during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round match at Old Trafford on February 04, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Kevin Palmer

Manchester United's interim boss Ralf Rangnick could not understand how Middlesbrough's controversial second half goal, as his side's miserable season hit a new low after they were dumped out of the FA Cup at Old Trafford.

Middlesbrough celebrated a famous penalty shoot-out victory at Old Trafford after Anthony Elanga’s miss saw United make an embarrassing early exit from the FA Cup.

The fourth round got off to a stunning start on Friday night as the Premier League giants arguably saw their last realistic hope of silverware this season extinguished by Chris Wilder’s Championship outfit.

Jadon Sancho opened the scoring for Rangnick’s star-studded side and Boro had looked limited but the hosts’ profligacy hurt them and Duncan Watmore crossed for fellow former United youth player Crooks to score in front of the raucous travelling Teessiders.

Most inside the stadium expected the goal to be ruled out for Watmore’s handball in the build-up, but it was apparently deemed accidental by both referee and VAR.

Every penalty found the net until Elanga struck his into the Stretford End, wrapping up an 8-7 spot-kick success for Boro and sending the 9,500 visiting fans wild.

The focus after the game was on the contentious handball call on the Middlesbrough goal, with Rangnick convinced it should not have been allowed to stand.

"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," said Rangnick.

"In the first half we should have easily been 3-0 up and second half we had chances too. We should have won the game in normal time. On penalties it can happen what happened today."

Former United captain Roy Keane was not impressed as he looked on in his role as an ITV Sport pundit, on a day when he confirmed he had been interviewed for the vacant manager's job at Sunderland.

Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick and Cristiano Ronaldo leave the pitch after losing the penalty shoot out during the Emirates FA Cup fourth round tie at Old Trafford. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

"You have to be critical of United. First half fantastic, but they’re playing a Championship team at home. Not good enough,” said Keane. "Middlesbrough were always going to have pressure at some point but you have to control it.

"The goal they conceded, they were outnumbered. Players weren’t getting back. I go back to it – that’s where you need the leadership and character. We’re off it for 10 or 15 minutes, but we’re against Middlesbrough, we’ll get back in.

"If you said to the manager before the game, these are the chances you’re going to get, you’d take it all day long. It changes the mood in the ground tonight. I’d expect them to beat a Championship team tonight but it just added more and more pressure."

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