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. CONCACAF Champions League Roundup: Champions fall in Panama; Sporting slips at Estelí

    Aug 20, 2014, 1:47 AM EDT

    concacaf champions league logo

    Portland victorious in CCL debut,while Club América affirmed their place as one of the competition’s favorites.

  2. Where in the world is Juan Agudelo? “Munich” may soon be the answer

    Aug 19, 2014, 9:53 PM EDT

    Agudelo Getty Images

    21-year-old striker may turn to the 2.Bundesliga to get his young career back on track.

  3. Moor’s season-ending injury sends Rapids’ defense into upheaval

    Aug 19, 2014, 8:33 PM EDT

    Colorado Rapids v Philadelphia Union Getty Images

    Injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for slumping Colorado.

  4. Spanish Super Cup: Late goal allows Atlético to claim first leg draw at Real Madrid

    Aug 19, 2014, 7:22 PM EDT

    gareth_bale AP

    James Rodríguez’s opener is pulled back in the 81st minute, sending the rivals to the Calderón even.

  5. UEFA Champions League Roundup: Arsenal held; Athletic takes 1-1 draw out of Naples

    Aug 19, 2014, 5:40 PM EDT

    arsenal_besiktas AP

    Steaua Bucharest, Bayer Leverkusen, and Red Bull Salzburg earned first leg wins.

  6. PST Major League Soccer Player of the Week: Fabián Castillo

    Aug 19, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT

    Colorado Rapids v FC Dallas Getty Images

    Tesho Akindele won the league’s honor, leaving is with one question: How? Teammate Fabián Castillo was clearly FC Dallas’s (and the league’s) best player.

  7. Fantasyland: Week One heroes, leaders, busts, three names to monitor

    Aug 19, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT

    Sunderland v Udinese - Pre Season Friendly Getty Images

    A pair of Liverpool midfielders let down their owners, while Hull was the key to big, big scores.

  8. VIDEO: Ba hits the bar from midfield off opening kickoff vs Arsenal

    Aug 19, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Ba 1

    Demba Ba had the gumption to try and score one of the earliest goals of all-time in Besiktas’ UCL match against Arsenal on Tuesday

  9. Man says Liverpool tattoo helped him through 19 hours vs sea, sharks

    Aug 19, 2014, 2:45 PM EDT

    Channel 7 via The Mirror Channel 7 via The Mirror

    Swimming with sharks, and knowing his fishing companions faced death, Kim Thomsen leaned on the fact that he wasn’t swimming alone.

  10. Tuesday transfer rumor roundup: Falcao to Liverpool, Welbeck to Hull?

    Aug 19, 2014, 2:25 PM EDT

    Vincent-Aboubakar Getty Images

    Bayern president Franz Beckenbauer claims Marco Reus is headed to Manchester United… next summer.

  11. Sporting CP confirms swap of Rojo to Manchester United for Nani, money

    Aug 19, 2014, 2:07 PM EDT

    APTOPIX Brazil Soccer WCup Germany Argentina AP

    Hours after apologizing for trying to force a move to Manchester United, Argentina defender Marcos Rojo is commenting on said move.

  12. Tim Leiweke denies reports that he’s stepping down in Toronto

    Aug 19, 2014, 1:53 PM EDT

    MLS Toronto FC Gilberto Soccer AP

    The MLSE boss has been good for Toronto FC, bringing in Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley, and is denying a report that he’s leaving town.

  13. Report: Malky Mackay wins Crystal Palace job over Tim Sherwood

    Aug 19, 2014, 1:24 PM EDT

    Cardiff City v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    Mackay’s hiring at Palace would be a reunion with sporting director Ian Moody, the latter also unceremoniously replaced at Cardiff

  14. Many changes in Dunga’s first Brazil call-ups since World Cup disaster

    Aug 19, 2014, 12:51 PM EDT

    Liverpool v Borussia Dortmund - Pre Season friendly Getty Images

    Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho is among the new names on the list.

  15. American teen Hyndman trying to earn Magath’s trust at Fulham

    Aug 19, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    www.fulhamfc.com www.fulhamfc.com

    Playing in the Championship club’s first two matches, both losses, Emerson Hyndman is being hailed as an ‘old head on young shoulders’

  16. Liverpool, Barca target could become youngest capped in Norway history

    Aug 19, 2014, 11:10 AM EDT

    http://www.fotball.no/ http://www.fotball.no/

    When Norway hosts the United Arab Emirates in Stavanger on Aug. 27, it could see Martin Odegaard break a 104-year old record.

  17. DC United executive steps up confidence in new stadium project

    Aug 19, 2014, 10:31 AM EDT

    DC United DC United

    Good news or just politics as usual for DC United fans?

  18. Americans Abroad Wrap: US teenagers go distance for Fulham, Utrecht

    Aug 19, 2014, 9:26 AM EDT

    Chelsea U18 v Fulham U18 - FA Youth Cup Final: Second Leg Getty Images

    Brad Guzan had a better weekend than Tim Howard, as the Yanks in the Premier League witnessed a mixed bag of fortunes.

  19. Report: Pair of World Cup stars undergoing medicals at QPR

    Aug 19, 2014, 7:46 AM EDT

    Brazil Soccer WCup Netherlands Chile AP

    Could players from Norwich City and Napoli be heading to Harry Redknapp’s Premier League side, along with Niko Kranjcar?

  20. Premier League Player of the Week – Matchday 1

    Aug 18, 2014, 11:58 PM EDT

    Sterling AP

    Life after Luis Suarez isn’t too bad for Liverpool thanks to this guy…

Featured video

Top five PL goals, Week 1