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. Arsenal defender Mathieu Debuchy out for three months

    Sep 22, 2014, 11:28 AM EDT

    Debuchy Getty Images

    Gunners defensive woes compounded as Debuchy will be out for over three months.

  2. Premier League Playback: Legendary Lampard strikes, United’s shambolic implosion

    Sep 22, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    Lampard Getty Images

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an in-depth look at the incredible storylines from the PL during Week 5.

  3. Men in Blazers podcast: A Night of 1,000 Stars

    Sep 22, 2014, 9:40 AM EDT

    IMG_9209_edit_facebook

    Rog and Davo welcomed guest after guest for a very special pod.

  4. Manuel Pellegrini accuses Chelsea of being a “small team”

    Sep 22, 2014, 9:05 AM EDT

    Manchester City v Chelsea - Premier League Getty Images

    Pellegrini on City’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea: “I think we played 90 minutes against a small team trying to defend.”

  5. Report: Sami Khedira to seal $20 million Arsenal move in January

    Sep 22, 2014, 8:32 AM EDT

    sami_khedira Getty Images

    German midfielder would be exactly what Arsenal need. Will he arrive in January?

  6. Report: West Ham join QPR in chase for Toronto’s Jermaine Defoe

    Sep 22, 2014, 7:53 AM EDT

    jermain_defoe Getty Images

    Will Defoe be heading back to England at the end of the 2014 MLS season? Reports suggest its likely.

  7. MLS Sunday review: Toronto FC ease to victory against lowly Chivas USA

    Sep 22, 2014, 12:37 AM EDT

    toronto_fc AP

    Toronto FC vs. Chivas USA was the only MLS match to occur on Sunday.

  8. La Liga and Serie A roundup: Real Madrid smokes Deportivo, Juve downs Milan

    Sep 22, 2014, 12:10 AM EDT

    cristiano_ronaldo AP

    Roundup of Serie A and La Liga matches from the weekend.

  9. Manchester City’s Zabaleta believes Diego Costa luckily escaped red card

    Sep 21, 2014, 10:09 PM EDT

    manchester-city-pablo-zabaleta Getty Images

    Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta thinks the referee let Diego Costa off without a red card during their encounter that spurred a red card for the Argentine.

  10. Barcelona stays undefeated with 5-0 drubbing of Levante

    Sep 21, 2014, 9:07 PM EDT

    FC Barcelona v SL Benfica - UEFA Champions League Getty Images

    Barcelona beat Levante 5-0 on Sunday to continue their winning streak in all competitions.

  11. Joe Hart’s Manchester City future in limbo, Liverpool may target the goalkeeper

    Sep 21, 2014, 7:02 PM EDT

    Can England start to churn out talents such as Joe Hart from SGP on a regular basis? Getty Images

    Manchester City goalie Joe Hart confirmed that he hadn’t discussed a new contract with the club, and Liverpool is a prime candidate for his services, according to the Metro.

  12. Merseyside police to explore racist comments at Mario Balotelli

    Sep 21, 2014, 5:48 PM EDT

    hi-res-133f09d31924ea9d682e1f1a8a3ffef1_crop_north Getty Images

    More racism was thrown at Mario Balotelli, but this time, it appears law enforcement will get involved.

  13. Mesut Ozil, Danny Welbeck brandish skills in 3-0 win over Aston Villa

    Sep 21, 2014, 5:09 PM EDT

    Mesut Özil returns for Arsenal as they attempt to reclaim the top of the Premier League table with a win over Stoke. AP

    Mesut Ozil and Danny Welbeck scored and assisted each other during the Gunners 3-0 win over Aston Villa.

  14. WATCH: Alessandro Florenzi embraces grandmother in stands after goal

    Sep 21, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT

    Unknown Getty Images

    Alessandro Florenzi hugged and kissed his grandmother in the Stade Olimpico stands following his goal in AS Roma’s 2-0 victory over Cagliari.

  15. Roberto Martinez on Crystal Palace loss: ‘We didn’t have that real drive about us’

    Sep 21, 2014, 3:34 PM EDT

    Martinez AP

    Everton manager Roberto Martinez laments loss to Crystal Palace, saying that his squad lost its drive for victory.

  16. Daniel Sturridge reacts to Lampard’s equalizer against Chelsea

    Sep 21, 2014, 3:06 PM EDT

    Lampard Getty Images

    One England international paid respects to another as a legend scored an emotional goal for his new team against his old.

  17. Emotional Lampard just as shocked after pegging back ex-club Chelsea (VIDEO)

    Sep 21, 2014, 1:55 PM EDT

    Lampard AP

    We didn’t see this coming, and neither did Frank Lampard.

  18. Manchester City 1-1 Chelsea: Lampard shocks former club with late equalizer (video)

    Sep 21, 2014, 12:57 PM EDT

    Zabaleta AP

    Pablo Zabaleta’s second yellow card changed the game, but a former Chelsea legend came back to haunt them.

  19. Everton 2-3 Crystal Palace: Visitors overwhelm Goodson with deadly counters (video)

    Sep 21, 2014, 12:55 PM EDT

    PalaceEverton

    Everton started early and saw much of the ball but Crystal Palace got a few breaks and took advantage to pick up their first win of the season.

Featured video

Week 5: Top five Premier League goals