Manchester United were knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Derby County in a prolonged shootout at Old Trafford. The spot-kick nail-biter was the climax to a night of high drama, with Phil Jones becoming the Reds' fall guy by missing the 16th penalty after the first 15 were all scored in front of the Stretford End.
The Reds had opened the scoring at the opposite end of the evening when Juan Mata got his side off to a third-minute flyer. But in a game billed as the Sorcerer, Jose Mourinho, against the Apprentice, Frank Lampard, it was the United manager’s former Chelsea stalwart who ultimately defeated his mentor.
The Rams came back with two second-half goals to almost win the contest in 90 minutes before Fellaini’s late, late intervention. Finally, after 15 brilliantly taken spot-kicks, Jones's effort was saved by Scott Carson to see Derby through to the fourth round 8-7 on penalties.
Having made wholesale changes to freshen up his side following the 1-1 Premier League draw at Old Trafford against Wolves last Saturday, the Reds needed a solid platform from which to build cohesion and confidence. That platform came just minutes into the match.
Anthony Martial began the move that was too swift and clever for the Championship visitors as he raced down the left wing. The Frenchman crossed low and Romelu Lukaku cutely clipped the ball on to Jesse Lingard who in turn deftly slipped a pass to Mata. The Spaniard applied the killer touch, a left-footed low curler beyond Scott Carson.
However, before United could really relax and capitalise on the rapid start, the Rams almost embarrassed the hosts just three minutes later. Derby’s move was as quick and incisive as the Reds' breakthrough attack and it took an excellent stop from Sergio Romero to keep out Mason Bennett. The Argentinian certainly proved his worth as David De Gea’s understudy, with a save his fellow goalkeeper would have been proud to add to his own back catalogue.
The Reds may have nosed in front early on and carved out a few subsequent chances but the Rams steadfastly refused to cave in and Lampard’s influence was in evidence as they passed the ball around smartly and attempted to hit back. Their final-third cutting edge, fortunately, didn’t match the build-up play and United didn’t suffer another scare in the first half after that Bennett opportunity. However, despite an on-form Martial looking dangerous, Jose Mourinho's men were also unable to seriously test Carson after the opening flurry.
Wilson may have been denied by the Argentinian but the keeper had no answer when the winger smashed in a wicked 30-yard free kick six minutes later. His execution was incredible and deceived Romero to give the visitors their equaliser.
Wilson proved a thorn in United’s side again after 67 minutes when he broke through on goal onto a long pass and attempted to flick the ball over Romero. The goalkeeper, who’d come rushing off his line, handled outside the area and was red-carded by referee Stuart Attwell. The Reds' substitute keeper Lee Grant had to be brought on by manager Mourinho in place of Mata, to add to the previous introductions of Marouane Fellaini and Fred for Lingard and Herrera.
Old Trafford’s support turned up the volume to try and rally the 10-man Reds and lift them off the floor and it almost worked immediately with Lukaku hitting the post and Martial curling a shot just wide.
Once again Derby had an answer and Grant had to react quickly to a diving header from sub Florian Jozefzoon and push the goal-bound effort around his post.
The Rams had their tails up and the Reds suffered the consequences when substitute Jack Marriott headed home in the 85th minute. The no.14 followed up after Grant had brilliantly beaten out a shot from Mason Mount and United appealed strongly for offside. As the crowd waited anxiously, referee Attwell duly consulted VAR and then finally gave the goal to leave the hosts trailing 2-1.
The Reds were handed a lifeline when five minutes of injury time was put up on the board and with just 40 seconds of that to go, Fellaini rose to head in United’s last-gasp equaliser to send the match into the spot-kick drama.
United: Romero; Dalot, Bailly, Jones, Young; Matic, Herrera (Fellaini 63); Mata (Grant 69), Lingard (Fred 63), Martial; Lukaku.
Subs not used: Smalling, Darmian, McTominay, Alexis.
Scorers: Mata 3, Fellaini 90+5
Booked: Lingard. Sent off: Romero.
Derby County: Carson, Forsyth, Bryson, Tomori, Keogh, Wilson, Mount, Johnson, Bennett (Jozefoon 76), Nugent (Marriott 79), Bogle.
Subs not used: Roos, Wisdom, Waghorn, Huddlestone, Malone.
Scorers: Wilson 59, Marriott 85.
Booked: Bennett, Forsyth.