Skip to content

Third straight loss sees Manchester United down 2-1 to Sunderland after leg one of League Cup semifinal

Jan 7, 2014, 4:59 PM EDT

ryan_giggs Reuters

In a match short on chances, two narratives were served tonight at the Stadium of Light. Sunderland’s 2-1 win over Manchester United in the first leg of the teams’ League Cup semifinal played out all the clichés about the first leg of a two-legged tie. It was cagey, guarded, and left neither team willing to risk their second leg chances in search of first leg success.

But the loss also illustrated all the negatives surrounding David Moyes‘ plight with the Red Devils. Conservative and unwilling to risk players forward to create chances against a less-talented opponent, Moyes allowed the first leg to be decided by set pieces and penalty kicks. With his team receding into defense at the opening kickoff, Moyes allowed Sunderland to dictate as much of the match as United, part of the reason why a Ryan Giggs own goal and a Fabio Borini penalty conversion leave Guy Poyet’s side ahead after 90 minutes.

Against a team that would have trouble placing any of their starters in United’s Tuesday XI, the Red Devils entered the match’s final half hour even in possession and shots on goal. Those numbers would be irrelevant had United generated the better chances, yet the favorites had barely generated any chances at all. Nemanja Vidic‘s second half goal off a corner kick meant the Red Devils failed to score from open play. Though they finished the match with advantages in shots on goal (4-3) and possession (56-44), United were every bit Sunderland’s equal, highlighting the form that’s seen United drop three games in a row.

A dull beginning saw United recede into their banks of four while Adnan Januzaj occupied the space beneath Danny Welbeck, a set up that saw them share the ball with Sunderland. With neither team able to unlock the other, the game’s first 44 minutes the produced only one shot on goal, with Welbeck’s test of Vito Mannone highlighting what was playing out as a predictable first leg.

Just short of halftime, however, Sunderland were given a chance after Jonny Evans was whistled for a foul on an aerial challenge just inside the United half. The resulting restart saw a far post cross headed back across the six-yard box for Phil Bardsley, with Ryan Giggs’ interception ending up in the back for David de Gea’s goal. Come halftime, the Black Cats had seen their only chance result in an own goal, sending the home side into the dressing rooms with a 1-0 lead.

That lead last only seven minutes into the second, with United using their own set piece magic to equalize in the 52nd. With a corner kick from the left, Tom Cleverley found Nemanja Vidic in the middle of the area at the edge of the six-yard box. The Serbian elevated to head his short down and past Mannone, pulling United even at 1-1.

source: Reuters

After Adam Johnson drew a second half penalty, Fabio Borini gave Sunderland the 2-1 lead they’ll take back to Old Trafford. (Photo: Reuters.)

Hints United would take over the match’s second half ended in the 62nd minute when Adam Johnson, recently brought on for Emanuele Giaccherini, drew a penalty in the right of the penalty area. Beating Cleverley one-on-one, the Sunderland winger raced passed the United midfielder from 30 yards out before going down in the box, a contentious call that gave Fabio Borini a chance to restore the Black Cats’ lead. Despite replays hinting Johnson did his best to draw the assistant referee’s attention, Sunderland restored their one-goal lead, with Borini finishing high into de Gea’s net to make it 2-1.

Over the match’s final half hour, United were the better side, though they were enjoying the type of control pursuing teams are granted when opponents begin focusing on defense. With that focus, Sunderland were able to keep Mannone from being significantly tested, and with Chris Smalling and Darren Fletcher the first names off Moyes’s bench (Smalling for the injured Jonny Evans), Moyes appeared content to take a one-goal deficit back to Old Trafford.

Perhaps then Manchester United will have Robin van Persie. Maybe Wayne Rooney will be back. Both players, injured, were absent from Moyes’s XI on Tuesday. Down only one-goal ahead of Jan. 22’s second leg, United has every reason to believe they’ll still be at Wembley on March 2. The last two times United reached the League Cup final, they lost the semifinal’s first leg.

That, however, should be little consolation for a team who, seven months after finishing 11 clear at the top of the Premier League, are playing no better than a team fighting for its top-tier survival. After a performance that justified every worry about Moyes’s fit at United, the Red Devils have lost three-in-a-row for the first time in 13 years.

Latest Posts
  1. Three things we learned from Juventus vs. Real Madrid

    May 5, 2015, 5:05 PM EDT

    FBL-EUR-C1-JUVENTUS-REALMADRID FBL-EUR-C1-JUVENTUS-REALMADRID

    The Italian champs take a slender lead to the Spanish capital with them after a classic European encounter.

  2. Juventus 2-1 Real Madrid: Tevez penalty lifts Juve over defending champs

    May 5, 2015, 4:44 PM EDT

    Tevez stole the show as Juventus beat Real Madrid in Turin. Tevez stole the show as Juventus beat Real Madrid in Turin.

    A second-half penalty from Carlos Tevez led Juventus to a big home win over Real Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League semifinals.

  3. Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge undergoes hip surgery

    May 5, 2015, 3:36 PM EDT

    Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

    The Reds’ striker will now begin his rehabilitation towards next season after a disappointing campaign riddled with injuries.

  4. Newcastle captain pens open letter apologizing for recent nosedive

    May 5, 2015, 3:04 PM EDT

    Coloccini Getty Images

    The captain came to his team’s defense, but it ended up coming out quite awkward.

  5. LIVE – UEFA Champions League semifinal: Can Juventus beat Real Madrid in Turin?

    May 5, 2015, 2:15 PM EDT

    FBL-ITA-SERIEA-JUVENTUS-FIORENTINA FBL-ITA-SERIEA-JUVENTUS-FIORENTINA

    The Italian champions welcome the reigning European champions to Turin for the first leg of their semifinal. Follow all the action live.

  6. Rais Mbolhi rejoins Philadelphia Union, back training in full

    May 5, 2015, 1:49 PM EDT

    Mbohli Getty Images

    Thought to be on his way out, Rais Mbolhi is back with the club. For now.

  7. Injured Oscar out of Brazil squad for upcoming Copa America

    May 5, 2015, 12:22 PM EDT

    Oscar Getty Images

    Oscar hasn’t appeared since his collision with David Ospina, but Dunga says the midfielder’s injury is training related.

  8. Will Chelsea offer Didier Drogba a new contract? Should they?

    May 5, 2015, 11:11 AM EDT

    Drogba Getty Images

    Didier Drogba is 37 years old, but still represents the best option for his role that Chelsea can buy.

  9. US Soccer adds Guatemala to summer friendly list days before Gold Cup

    May 5, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    Guatemala AP

    Just four days before opening the Gold Cup, the US will host a familiar CONCACAF opponent.

  10. Report: Newcastle in for Aleksandar Mitrovic, agree to $22 million fee

    May 5, 2015, 9:54 AM EDT

    Mitrovic Getty Images

    Newcastle appears to have lofty goals, but the prospects of bringing a Champions League striker to St. James Park while trying to stave off relegation appear grim.

  11. American defender Will Packwood released by Birmingham City, while Spector’s extended

    May 5, 2015, 8:38 AM EDT

    Packwood Getty Images

    The 21-year-old Packwood saw his playing time significantly diminished this season, and finished the year on loan in League Two. Meanwhile, his experienced teammate Jonathan Spector is staying on.

  12. Reports: Chelsea gearing up contract extension talks with Mourinho

    May 5, 2015, 7:57 AM EDT

    Mourinho Getty Images

    With Jose Mourinho “here to stay” Chelsea has looked to make that sentiment official.

  13. VIDEO: Premier League Player of the Week – Round 35

    May 4, 2015, 11:15 PM EDT

    Christian Benteke, Aston Villa FC Christian Benteke, Aston Villa FC

    Christian Benteke’s two goals against not only pushed Aston Villa closer to Premier League safety, but earned the Belgian POTW honors.

  14. VIDEO: Premier League Team of the Week — Stars of Matchweek 35

    May 4, 2015, 10:25 PM EDT

    Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal FC Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal FC

    This week’s standout performers are recognized as the 2014-15 Premier League season winds down.

  15. UEFA Champions League preview: Juventus vs. Real Madrid in semifinal, 1st leg

    May 4, 2015, 8:54 PM EDT

    James Rodriguez & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF James Rodriguez & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF

    The first semifinal kicks off on Tuesday, as Juventus host Real Madrid, with Paul Pogba and Karim Benzema out injured.

  16. VIDEO: Wenger rues early-season injuries that prevented Arsenal’s title challenge

    May 4, 2015, 6:15 PM EDT

    Alexis Sanchez & Arsene Wenger, Arsenal FC Alexis Sanchez & Arsene Wenger, Arsenal FC

    If not for an incredibly slow start to the season, Arsenal might be neck and neck with Chelsea for the Premier League title.

  17. Premier League Playback: Title in the bag, can Chelsea now create a dynasty?

    May 4, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes a look back at Week 35 of the PL.

  18. Hull City 1-3 Arsenal: Gunners dominant in first half, cruise past Tigers

    May 4, 2015, 4:53 PM EDT

    Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal FC Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal FC

    Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey provided all the scoring Arsenal needed in a dominant first half, making it a comfortable victory in the end.

  19. MLS Player of the Week — Week 9: FC Dallas’ Fabian Castillo

    May 4, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT

    Fabian Castillo, FC Dallas — Photo credit: FC Dallas Fabian Castillo, FC Dallas — Photo credit: FC Dallas

    Our first repeat winner as MLS Player of the Week, Fabian Castillo is in scary-good form right now.

Featured video

Week 35: Premier League recap