Manchester United threw their place in the Capital One Cup quarter finals away with just seconds left on the clock and only have themselves to blame, according to Sir Alex Ferguson.
Only Rafael da Silva kept his place in a United squad with ten changes as they returned to Stamford Bridge after their fiery encounter against Chelsea on Sunday – Ryan Giggs gave the Reds the lead after a mistake from Romeu.
But a penalty from David Luiz drew level only for United to twice take the lead through Javier Hernandez and Nani after Gary Cahill had nodded Chelsea back on terms again.
But with just seconds to go in the 90, United conceded their second penalty and Eden Hazard stepped up to take the game to extra time in the 94th minute.
Daniel Sturridge and Ramires gave the Blues their first lead of the tie before Giggs converted the third penalty of the game late on but Chelsea ran out 5-4 winners.
“We gave the ball away for the third goal,” Ferguson said.
“We were in complete control of the game at that point, playing really good football and all we needed to do was see the game out, keep possession and Nani decided to try to beat a player and we ended up conceding a penalty kick.
“I don’t know if it was a penalty kick but I think at that point the young players started to feel it and it was very difficult for them in extra-time.
“They had a lot of attacks but nothing really came of them and our counter-attacks were very good but if you’re winning 3-2 in the final seconds of the game, you really should see it out – we have only ourselves to blame, really.”
United young backline performed valiantly against Roberto Di Matteo’s clear intent to seal Chelsea’s place in the next round – fending off diminutive playmakers Juan Mata, Hazard and Oscar.
But it was veteran Giggs – who played all 120 minutes as well as scoring a brace – who shone brightest among United’s young stars.
“I think some of the football was terrific,” added Ferguson. “I think in Ryan Giggs, we saw a player of unbelievable proportions, in terms of playing the 120 minutes at 39 years of age this month and it’s a credit to himself.
“It’s an example to every player on the pitch, even the Chelsea players.”