On Tuesday we saw League Cup holders Chelsea lose 5-4 on penalties at Stoke City after a 1-1 draw and a second-string Arsenal team crash 3-0 at second-tier Sheffield Wednesday. On Wednesday the upsets continued as Manchester United lost 3-1 on penalties to Championship side Middlesbrough at home, making it two consecutive seasons that Louis van Gaal has seen his side knocked out of the competition by lower league side.
After 120 goalless minutes at Old Trafford, the fourth-round tie went to penalties and with England internationals WayneRooney, Michael Carrick and Ashley Young all warmed up for next summer’s Euro 2016 competition by missing their penalties as Middlesbrough pulled off a famous win.
“You can say it’s unlucky, but I said that after the City match also,” said United manager Louis van Gaal, whose side drew 0-0 with Manchester City on Sunday. “You have to force the luck, but we didn’t do that because we didn’t score. That’s why I’m disappointed.”
A low-key game that saw United manager Louis van Gaal make nine changes to his starting XI sprang to life mid-way through the second half, with home defender Daley Blind the central figure.
The Dutchman was involved in two huge scares for United, first hacking the ball into his own net, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside, and then dispatching a back-pass that stand-in goalkeeper Sergio Romero almost allowed to bobble into the net. As the game ticked into injury time there was a flurry of chances, with Jesse Lingard hitting the post for United and Romero saving from Grant Leadbitter and Stewart Downing at the other end.
United substitute Anthony Martial had a penalty shout for handball rejected and went close with a header in extra time, and the home side were left to rue their missed opportunities. United’s first penalty was saved by Tomas Mejias and with Carrick blazing over the bar and Mejias also saving from Young, spot-kicks from Leadbitter, Downing and Ben Gibson took Aitor Karanka’s men through.
Meanwhile, Liverpool’s new manager Jurgen Klopp tasted victory for the first time as the Reds manager as his side edged Bournemouth 1-0 at Anfield. Liverpool had recorded draws against Tottenham Hotspur, Rubin Kazan and Southampton in Klopp’s first three games after succeeding Brendan Rodgers, but Nathaniel Clyne’s first-half strike got the German off the mark.
“It’s better than a draw,” Klopp told Sky Sports at Anfield with a wry smile. “I’m really satisfied tonight because this team never played together since I’m here – young players, new players, players who didn’t play for a long time because of injuries – and they did really well. We were dominant, we played football and had our moments. Everything is OK.”
Clyne scored in the 17th minute, following up after Joao Teixeira’s audacious back-heel had been cleared off the line to score his first Liverpool goal and set up a quarter-final at Southampton.
Premier League leaders Manchester City showed why they are favorites to win the League Cup this season as they demolished Crystal Palace 5-1 at home. Wilfried Bony headed City in front from Aleksandar Kolarov’s 22nd-minute corner before Kelechi Iheanacho teed up Kevin De Bruyne to tap in his sixth goal in nine club games shortly before half-time.
Second-half goals by Iheanacho, Yaya Toure, from the penalty spot, and 17-year-old substitute Manu Garcia sealed victory, with Palace replying through Damien Delaney’s 89th-minute header.
Meanwhile, Aston Villa began life without sacked manager Tim Sherwood by losing 2-1 at Premier League rivals Southampton, who won courtesy of goals by Maya Yoshida and Graziano Pelle.