Sir Alex Ferguson admitted fans at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night witnessed “a terrific game of football” but bemoaned Manchester United's failure to see out the game in the dying seconds of normal time.
The Reds took the lead three times against Chelsea in the Capital One Cup fourth round tie before eventually losing the match 5-4 after extra-time. But the additional period – forced by the hosts' equaliser from the penalty spot in the fourth minute of added time – should never have been needed, according to Sir Alex.
“We gave the ball away for the third goal,” he said. “We were in complete control of the match at that point, playing really good football and all we needed to do was see the game out and keep possession.
“Nani decided to try and beat a player, lost the ball and we ended up conceding a penalty kick.
“It's disappointing [to go out]. Some of our football was terrific.
“Our counter-attacking was very good, but if you are winning 3-2 in the final seconds of the game then you should see it out. We only have ourselves to blame, really.”
Nani wasn’t the only player to make an error that led to a goal. Alexander Buttner and Scott Wootton both conceded penalties, and Wootton’s soft header back to goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard at the beginning of extra-time allowed Daniel Sturridge to pounce and put Chelsea ahead.
“We took a gamble in terms of the centre-backs,” Sir Alex conceded. “It's very difficult because one's 19 [Michael Keane] and one's 20 [Wootton]. It's not easy.
“You can always get away with playing young forwards but playing young central defenders away from home, in a game of that magnitude, is going to make for a difficult night. That's how it proved.
“They'll learn from the experience but nonetheless it was a hard night for them.