Sunderland secure first-leg victory on Wearside.
Sunderland will head to Old Trafford with a one-goal aggregate lead as their cup story rolls on following a memorable win over Manchester United.
The first instalment of this two-legged Capital One Cup semi-final tie was one to savour for the Black Cats, who took the lead late in the first half through an own goal from Ryan Giggs.
United captain Nemanja Vidic replied with a close-range header early in the second period, but Fabio Borini settled matters with a coolly-taken 65th-minute penalty after sub Adam Johnson was brought down by Tom Cleverley.
A Sunderland side full of industry gave everything they had against a United outfit previously unbeaten on Wearside since 2000.
Gus Poyet will have been delighted with the way his side gave no quarter, and they were rewarded with a first-leg lead to take to the north west on January 22.
Poyet made seven changes following the weekend win over Carlisle, including handing a debut to on-loan Fiorentina left-back Marcos Alonso.
Meanwhile Steven Fletcher and Borini both returned, as did Lee Cattermole, Emanuele Giaccherini, Phil Bardsley and John O’Shea.
Six of the seven replaced - Johnson, Craig Gardner, Ondrej Celustka, Jack Colback, Jozy Altidore and Ji Dong-won - all started on the bench, with Andrea Dossena the exception.
Sunderland, who were facing their third Barclays Premier League side in succession in this competition, were contesting their first League Cup semi-final since 1999 and they began at pace backed by a vociferous home support.
The Black Cats created the first chance 12 minutes in as good approach play from Fletcher and Borini created a glimpse of an opening for the latter, who pulled his shot wide from the edge of the box.
Former Sunderland loanee Danny Welbeck had a low shot easily saved by Vito Mannone at the other end, but it was the hosts who were pushing and they came close with the half’s midway point approaching.
Ki Sung-Yueng picked out debutant Alonso with an excellent crossfield ball and the left-back’s deflected cross was narrowly missed by Fletcher, sliding in at the far post.
But United, who had won five straight games in domestic competition before losing their last two, posted notice of their attacking quality when the evergreen Giggs rattled Mannone’s crossbar 25 minutes in with a shot from just outside the box which took a slight deflection.
The visitors had the ball in the net seven minutes before the break when Adnan Januzaj rammed home a shot from close range after seeing an effort blocked, but the goal was chalked off due to a raised offside flag.
United looked like ending the half on top and only a super tackle from Wes Brown prevented Giggs from getting on the end of a Januzaj cross at the near post.
But Sunderland hit back to take the lead with virtually the last kick of the half.
Seb Larsson’s free-kick to the back post was knocked across the face of goal by the unmarked Brown and the sliding Bardsley was challenged by Giggs, who was credited with the final touch after the ball was bundled home from close range.
The breakthrough was perfectly timed – but United responded six minutes after the restart when captain Vidic headed in Januzaj’s corner at the back post.
The visitors couldn’t build on their leveller, though, and only a brilliant save from David de Gea prevented Sunderland from going ahead again on 62 minutes.
Chris Smalling – just on as a sub – headed a Bardsley cross straight to the unmarked Larsson, who fired goalwards only for the United keeper to somehow divert the ball over the top with his right hand.
But that chance was to prove a warning shot as Poyet’s side regained the lead three minutes later.
Johnson, not long on the pitch as a replacement for Giaccherini, shrugged off a challenge from Cleverley and advanced into the box only to be brought down by the backtracking United midfielder for a penalty.
Borini stepped up and dispatched the penalty in some style, drilling the ball high into the roof of the net well beyond de Gea.
Sunderland’s tails were up and Johnson came close soon afterwards when he fired over the crossbar from the edge of the box.
But the hosts – for whom Altidore entered the fray 18 minutes from time after Fletcher limped off – had significant defending to do as time ticked away, with the dangerous Januzaj firing wide on the turn before touching Antonio Valencia’s cross onto the roof of the net.
Michael Carrick also thumped a shot off-target early in five minutes of stoppage time, but Sunderland held their nerve to bag a valuable first-leg advantage.
- Yellow Mannone
- Yellow Bardsley
- Fletcher (Altidore)
- Yellow Giaccherini (Johnson)
- de Gea
- da Silva Yellow
- Evra Yellow
- Evans (Smalling)
- Valencia (Hernández)
- Cleverley (Fletcher)
- Yellow Altidore
- Smalling Yellow