United need Romero to down Dale and squeeze to Carabao Cup victory

Sergio Romero saved Manchester United from an embarrassing Carabao Cup exit but the way Rochdale pushed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side to penalties raises serious questions.

Reeling from a rudderless performance in Sunday’s Premier League loss at West Ham, a much-changed United side showed few signs of improvement in Wednesday’s third-round clash against the side from 20 miles away.

Mason Greenwood fired United ahead in the second half, only for 16-year-old Luke Matheson to secure Brian Barry-Murphy’s Rochdale a hard-fought 1-1 draw and a penalty shoot-out.

Back-up goalkeeper Romero’s save from Jimmy Keohane’s attempt was the difference as Solskjaer’s side emerged as 5-3 victors, but the outcome could not disguise a poor performance against the side 17th in League One.

United were toothless and underwhelming throughout, with World Cup winner Paul Pogba, back after an ankle injury, wasting the best chance of a one-sided first half.

But Rochdale were playing with confidence that belied their lowly standing and were a stunning Aaron Wan-Bissaka goal-line clearance away from scoring through Callum Camps.

Greenwood struck in an eerily similar way to last week’s narrow win against Astana, only for impressive 16-year-old Matheson to find the net and delight the 7,000-or-so visiting fans.

Dale dug deep and took the match to penalties, with Romero’s low save on Keohane the only difference.

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