UNITED fans refused to be downhearted after watching their team lose 3-0 to the Premier League champions.

Loyal supporters hoped the performance of the side against its multi-million-pound opposition will provide a boost to the club both on and off the pitch.

In a cold night at the Kassam, a capacity crowd roared on the home team for 90 minutes in the Carabao cup match and many fans spoke of feeling proud of the players for their performance.

Dave Hall and Tracey Radburn, from Witney, came to watch Mr Hall’s grandson run out with the stars as a mascot and said they felt the team could hold their heads up high.

Ms Radburn said: “It was a good match. I think we were unlucky to lose by three.

“It was a special night for us – they did themselves proud.”

Season ticket holders John Cross and Sandy Godfrey, who have attended matches for several decades between them, said it was ‘brilliant’ to see the Kassam full but feared fans would not return unless the club’s performance in the league picked up.

As supporters filed out of the stadium, some were blocked off to allow the Manchester City coach to leave and had to crawl under hedges to get out.

The influx of fans also caused problems before kick-off as supporters raced to get to the ground with car parks filling up by 6pm.

Those who were later faced long queues to get in with some complaining they would be in Banbury before getting a spot.

But the problems didn’t stifle the atmosphere ahead of kick off with most ticket holders taking their seats early to relish the occasion.

Those already at the ground congregated near the players entrance to get a chance to see Oxford’s stars arriving, and the big names of the Premier League champions, including boss Pep Guardiola.

The Manchester City team bus had been pictured stuck in traffic on social media and fans joked the team had ‘bottled it’ before it eventually arrived late to chants of ‘who are you?’

Many were impressed at the strength of the City team which they said ‘showed respect’ to United and the potential of them causing an upset.

Sue Trafford, who was managing a merchandise stand to raise money for the club’s community trust, said: “It has been really hectic. There’s a lot of new fans coming over and everyone wants to pick up a bit of a memento to say ‘I was there’.

“One man said he didn’t think he would go to another game like this in his lifetime so wanted to buy a lot.”

Richard Cashmore, attending with son Travis, 9, had won tickets to attend the match which was only Travis’ fourth ever game.

Mr Cashmore, from Eynsham, was cautiously optimistic before kick-off.

He said: “My son has never seen a team this big play in Oxford before.

“It’s a £700million team and they are almost impossible to play against. It’s a dream come true to see it with my son and, if they were to win, that would be a memory that would last a lifetime.”