Middlesbrough endured a frustrating night as they exited the EFL Cup at Fulham last night – a big comedown following the weekend Premier League victory at Sunderland.
Danish midfielder Lasse Vigen Christensen scored an extra-time winner for the Londoners, who came from behind to win 2-1 – and injuries added to Boro’s woes.
Fulham made 10 changes for the tie but still saw his team recover from going 1-0 down to a goal from David Nugent after eight minutes.
A 54th-minute own goal from Julien De Sart provided Fulham’s equaliser and they completed victory through Christensen’s smart finish in the 113th minute.
Boro manager Aitor Karanka was annoyed at seeing his side crash out to a side from a lower league.
He said: “I’m disappointed because I said before the game this trophy is very important for the club.
“I have to apologise to our crowd because they came here midweek and it’s an important trophy for this club, we respect this trophy a lot. So this has been difficult.”
Karanka made six changes for the tie but does not believe his selection can be blamed for the result.
“They made 10 changes so it’s not a good explanation,” he added.
“Sometimes you think the game is going to be easy because the other team plays with 10 different players and you score the first goal. That was the biggest mistake.
“We thought we were better than the other team, we relaxed on the pitch. This kind of attitude reminds me of the past.”
Middlesbrough’s disappointment was made worse by injuries to two full-backs – Fabio Da Silva and George Friend – which leaves Karanka with a problem ahead of Sunday’s trip to West Brom.
It could force the Boro chief into the transfer market but he insists he will not make any knee-jerk decisions.
He said: “I don’t know if I’ll bring in one or two or three. But I won’t say today because we lost the game we need five players. It’s the same as I said two weeks ago.”
There were only eight minutes on the clock when new signing Fabio, a £2million buy from Cardiff, crossed from the left and Nugent glanced home a header from close range to put the visitors ahead.
The goal came at a cost for Karanka’s side, however, as Fabio pulled up with an injury soon after and had to be replaced by Friend.
The equaliser came after 54 minutes following a flowing move which ended with Ryan Tunnicliffe finding Scott Malone on the wing.
Boro keeper Brad Guzan made a stunning save from the left-back’s deflected shot but the ball hit De Sart to end up in the net for a cruel own goal.
Five minutes later and Fulham almost snatched the lead - but this time Guzan was able to tip Woodrow’s effort over the bar.
Tiring Boro were dealt another injury blow, too, when substitute Friend had to go off injured in the 90th minute as the tie went to extra-time.
Fulham continued to impress as Jozabed tested Guzan with a volley after 100 minutes and substitute Matt Smith thundered a header narrowly over the bar - before Sean Kavanagh’s effort beat Guzan only to be blocked on the line by Ben Gibson.
The goal was coming and it duly arrived in the 113th minute when Christensen swept home from close range following another excellent low cross from the left by Malone.