[Capital One Cup] Sunderland 2-1 Manchester United
Sunderland: Ryan Giggs (og.45), Fabio Borini (pen.64)
ManUtd: Nemanja Vidic (52)
Manchester United have a one-goal deficit to claw back at Old Trafford after losing the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final to Sunderland.
The Reds responded to going behind to a Ryan Giggs own goal at the end of the first half by equalising through Nemanja Vidic shortly after the break, but Fabio Borini’s 65th-minute penalty put Sunderland back into a lead they held to the final whistle.
After absorbing early pressure from the hosts, the United players asserted themselves to the extent they should have gone into the break ahead rather than behind. Giggs struck the crossbar with a deflected effort after outpacing Lee Cattermole, and Adnan Januzaj thought he had scored his third goal on Sunderland’s home patch only to see the offside flag raised against Giggs as his second-time-of-asking shot flew past Vito Mannone.
But David Moyes' men fell behind to a goal that had Old Trafford stamped all over it, with former United centre-back Wes Brown touching a disputed Sebastian Larsson free-kick back across goal towards another ex-Reds defender, Phil Bardsley, before the ball was bundled over the line from inside the six-yard box with the final touch by the unlucky Giggs.
United shook off the shock of conceding to draw level six minutes after the resumption, Vidic rising to head a Tom Cleverley corner past Mannone. Sunderland responded with Borini skewing a shot just off target and Larsson’s bouncing shot forcing a good save from David De Gea, but they retook the lead from the penalty spot.
Substitute Adam Johnson ran at Cleverley and was brought down on the edge of the box, and after Rafael was booked for dissent, Borini sent De Gea the wrong way. Januzaj went close twice, shaving the post with a curling shot off his right foot and dinking a Valencia cross onto the roof of the net. But there was to be no repeat of his October heroics on this ground, enabling Sunderland to triumph this time.
The Match The home side raced out of the traps and were on top early on, but United seemed to have weathered the storm by dominating the rest of the first half, striking the woodwork through Ryan Giggs and getting the ball into Sunderland’s net through Adnan Januzaj – only to see the offside flag raised. The award of the free kick that led to Sunderland’s opener was hotly debated by United, and by the time the unlucky Giggs touched Wes Brown’s cross home under pressure from another former Red in Phil Bardsley, the match had gone beyond the minute of injury time that had been initially indicated. There was a rapid response, with Nemanja Vidic grabbing the equaliser early in the second half, but it was Sunderland who hit back, this time scoring from the spot after the referee’s assistant flagged for a foul on Adam Johnson by Tom Cleverley. Januzaj twice went close to scoring but this time there was no way back.
The Goal Vidic led by example to help shake off the shock of conceding, the skipper getting to a Tom Cleverley corner in between ex-Reds defenders John O’Shea and Brown to nod the ball powerfully home.
Star man Adnan Januzaj was excellent once again on the site of his scene-stealing performance in October, popping up all over the pitch, having a goal ruled out for offside and going closest to grabbing an equaliser after Fabio Borini’s penalty.
Sub-plots There was a tinge of United red in the Sunderland starting defence with the presence of O’Shea, Brown and Bardsley, and the latter pair were deeply involved in the opener “credited” to Ryan Giggs. The defeat means United have lost three consecutive games for the first time since May 2001. There is still the second leg to come and United will take a sense of injustice at this result forward into the return at Old Trafford.
Opposition The hosts had faded away after a good start, with their opener coming very much against the run of play. Conceding Vidic’s equaliser seemed to revive Gus Poyet’s side, who created a couple of chances prior to the penalty that eventually handed them victory.
Move of the match A swift switch of play moved the ball out to Patrice Evra, and Januzaj was unlucky that his alertness in despatching the rebound from his initial shot came to nothing when Giggs was flagged offside.
In the stands The 4,800 United fans that made the midweek trip to the North East made plenty of noise and accounted for a sizeable chunk of an under-populated Stadium of Light. Sunderland’s goal revived their fans after the break, and while the equaliser put the visiting contingent back on top for a while, the eventual winner evened things up for the rest of the night.