Manchester United 1 Derby County 1 (Derby win 8-7 on penalties)
After José Mourinho told Paul Pogba he will never be captain again came a night to test the manager as a Phil Jones's miss from Manchester United's eighth kick in the penalty shootout sent Derby County through and knocked United out of the Carabao Cup.
Jack Marriott's late header had been answered by Marouane Fellaini's in injury time after United had allowed the tie to drift following Juan Mata's early goal. Then came eight minutes in which Harry Wilson equalised and Sergio Romero became the third United player in five matches to receive a red card – for handling the ball – before Fellaini's intervention saved home blushes.
Mourinho had made nine changes, retaining only Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard from Saturday's draw here with Wolves. One of those missing was Pogba though he was among a number of players the manager stated had been rested. Frank Lampard's XI was the same one that beat Brentford 3-1 last time out and while he was particularly respectful of Mourinho when he played under him at Chelsea, the 40-year-old will have wanted to put one over on him.
This hope was dented after three minutes after the kind of flowing move Mourinho's United can be accused of lacking. Anthony Martial showed his class with a neat first touch and away he raced down the left. A cross was flicked on by Lukaku, Lingard dummied and Mata swept in a convincing finish to Scott Carson's right.
The perfect start for United came close to being matched by Derby moments later. As United dawdled Mason Bennett stole in from the right and his effort required a fine save from Romero. This had Lampard shaking his head in disbelief and the modest crowd applauding both the move and the Argentinian's ability.
Next came a moment of United quality. Ashley Young, wearing the armband, pinged in a sweet 40-yard pass that bypassed the visiting defence and landed on Mata's toes. The No 8 killed the ball but could not beat Carson and a corner from the left ensued.
Young took this and saw his delivery ricochet off Carson's right post in a fortunate escape for Derby. The sense of an open contest in which United might streak ahead was confirmed when Richard Keogh made a serious error in front of Carson. He ceded the ball to Lukaku, yet after racing in on goal his attempt went wide. Derby's response came via a Keogh advance from the back but the central defender's 20-yard shot missed to Romero's right.
Martial was unlucky to be dropped for the Wolves game following an eye-catching display against Young Boys and he was in effervescent mood again here. After skipping to near the left byline his ball he crossed and Lukaku might have doubled the lead but the centre-forward mistimed his jump and over went the header.
Keogh continued to make errors. Just before the half-hour the captain dawdled and looked to have given possession away again in the danger zone but he managed to recover. Unlike Lampard, who stood throughout the opening period, Mourinho waited 31 minutes before leaving his seat and when he did this was to remonstrate at some lax play from the team. The Portuguese was also surely frustrated that United had not been more ruthless – a regular refrain of his – as at the break their lead remained just the single goal.
As this juncture neared Martial advanced and looked to thread the ball to Lukaku who lurked near the penalty spot but he lacked precision just as the side had thus far lacked a killer edge.
The second half began with Lukaku having to head clear a Derby free-kick and Romero hitting a regulation clearance against an opposing player and the visitors winning a corner moments later.
This United performance was beginning to be reminiscent of Saturday’s lax display and of so many under Mourinho. Derby were becoming the ascendant side and Romero was again required to protect the lead as more slipshod marking allowed Harry Wilson in though the wide man could not beat the Argentinian.
United were unable to get hold of the ball and dictate the contest and when Bradley Johnson flew into Martial with a tackle near halfway this summed up how much more urgent Derby were.
This all pointed to what came on the hour. Then Wilson, a Liverpool loanee, stepped up to take a 30-yard free-kick that he curled from right to left, sending Romero going the wrong way for the equaliser.
Mourinho reacted instantly. He took off Lingard and Ander Herrera for Fred and Fellaini yet the travelling support’s own response was to inform the 55-year-old he was “getting sacked in the morning.”
Now came disaster for United as Romero was sent off by the referee, Stuart Atwell, for handling outside the area as Wilson raced on to the ball. This meant Lee Grant – who played for Derby for 11 years in two spells, with more than 170 appearances – entering for his United debut at the age of 35 to set up a frantic finish, which included one fine save.