Manchester United fan Matt Crooks’ dreams come true after goal at Old Trafford

Manchester United v Middlesbrough – Emirates FA Cup – Fourth Round – Old Trafford
(Image credit: Martin Rickett)

Matt Crooks said Middlesbrough’s FA Cup win at Old Trafford was “what dreams are made of” after the Manchester United fan scored against his boyhood club on an unforgettable night.

Ralf Rangnick’s star-studded side dominated for the most part against the Championship promotion hopefuls on Friday night, but they were made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal.

Cristiano Ronaldo missed a penalty before Jadon Sancho struck at Old Trafford, where Duncan Watmore set up fellow former United academy player Crooks to score a contentious leveller.

The match ended 1-1 after 90 minutes and extra-time, with Anthony Elanga’s missed spot-kick sealing Chris Wilder’s Boro a shock 8-7 penalty shoot-out win under the Old Trafford lights.

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“Madness, absolute madness,” Crooks said.

“Personally for me obviously coming here as a fan over the years, being in the academy, getting let go then trying to make my way in the game again, to come here and score and win (is great).

“I mean, I don’t think we played that well in the game but to score it kind of just glosses over everything and to get the win as well is just amazing.

“It’s what dreams are made of, really. I said that before in the week leading up to it.

“As long as I put in a good performance and the team did well, then I was happy. I didn’t put in a good performance but I scored, so I am still happy! There you have it.

“Unfortunately my dad couldn’t come, he’s got Covid, so that put a bit of a downer on it yesterday but I know he’s watching and hopefully he’s happy as I am. I am sure he will be.”

Crooks was proud of Boro’s “unbelievable team effort” against United, who were furious to see the midfielder’s equaliser stand as Watmore clearly handled in the build-up.

“I’ve no idea what the rules are anymore,” Crooks told beIN Sports.

“I saw it hit him on his arm so I thought just get there, put it in and see what happens. I don’t think I celebrated as much as I wanted to because I knew there was going to be a slight bit of doubt but, yeah, it counts and I’ll remember that for the rest of my life now.”

While the 9,500 travelling fans and all connected to Boro celebrated long into the night, United were left rueing what could have been.

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The Champions League is their last route to silverware this season and a top-four finish is far from certain, with interim boss Rangnick now having to refocus on Tuesday night’s Premier League trip to Burnley.

“I think we played well in the last couple of weeks in the league and also today in the first half,” the German said.

“I don’t think that we could have done a lot of things better in the first half apart from scoring more goals, but the way that the team played I was more than pleased with our performance.

“But in the cup it’s about winning the game and then proceeding into the next round and we didn’t achieve that in the end and that’s why we are extremely disappointed.

“There is not that much time now for us to prepare for the next important game at Burnley on Tuesday and we have to take our chances better and with more quality than we did today.”

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