Ah, the beauty of the League Cup.
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For 120 minutes second-tier Middlesbrough battled away against Manchester United on Wednesday and beat the Red Devils 3-1 on penalties to reach the quarterfinals of the the Capital One Cup.
Speaking after the game United manager Louis Van Gaal believes that Aitor Karanka’s side were “lucky” to win and blamed poor finishing for the PL giants crashing out of the competition to lower-league opposition for the third time in four years.
“They were lucky but of course you can force the luck,” van Gaal said. “We have created a lot of chances, especially in the second half and in extra time. We had chances from one metre, two metres in front of the goal. We have to finish those. In football it is always the goals that are counting and not the chances.”
Simply put, United blew a glut of chances from close range and to their credit, Middlesbrough were also wasteful in front of goal as they team who sit fourth in the Championship and lost in the playoff final last season proved they can withstand heavy pressure from the PL’s big boys. After the game their manager, former Real Madrid defender Karanka, believe his team deserved to win.
“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,” Karanka said. “For that reason, I have to say how proud I am of my players. Penalties sometimes you lose – last season we lost against Liverpool after 30 penalties – and sometimes you can win. The main thing is the performance, and the performance against Man United, a big team, it was amazing.”
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United’s lineup was much changed as van Gaal brought on Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial and Ashley Young to try and spark an ineffective offense into life. James Wilson was subbed off at half time, while Memphis Depay had another outing to forget and youngsters Jesse Lingard and Andres Pereira played the entire match,
Simply put, Boro did a job on United and although they got a little “lucky” with United leaving their shooting boots at home, you can’t begrudge their endeavor to grind out an extra time win at Old Trafford and set up a home tie against Everton in the last eight.