SUNDERLAND 2 vs MANCHESTER UNITED 1
MANCHESTER United manager David Moyes felt a “laughable” performance from referee Andre Marriner was to blame for his team’s Capital One Cup semi-final first leg defeat to the Premier League’s bottom club.
Evergreen midfielder Ryan Giggs turned the ball into his own net on the stroke of half-time following United’s failure to clear a free-kick awarded after an aerial challenge between Jonny Evans and Steven Fletcher. And, after Nemanja Vidic had equalised, Fabio Borini hit the winner from the penalty spot when Tom Cleverley was adjudged to have brought down substitute Adam Johnson.
United have now lost three games in a row for the first time since May 2001, but Moyes is more concerned with the recent performances of the officials than his players.
“With one or two referees we’re having to play them as well as the opposition at the moment and we’re beginning to laugh at them,” he said.
“The players put in a good performance and we’re not far away. It’s coming, I can sense it.
“Our crowd were unbelievable. The support they gave to the team and me was terrific and the players deserved it because they did well enough to get a result, so I’m really looking forward to the second leg.”
Sunderland’s victory was their second in three days having triumphed against Carlisle in the FA Cup on Sunday.
But manager Gus Poyet knows cup runs will count for little unless they can improve on just three Premier League wins from 20 matches so far this term, which sees them four points adrift of safety.
“If not it’s not worth it,” he said, stressing the need to climb off the foot of the Premier League table.
“We want to enjoy this, but the Premier League is key. We have a great advantage but it’s not easy to beat United. It’s been many years since the last one [cup final appearance] so we’ll try our best.”
Moyes enjoyed vociferous backing from almost 5,000 travelling fans, who saw Giggs rattle the crossbar from the edge of the box on 25 minutes.
But Sunderland took the lead shortly before half-time when former United defender Wes Brown squared Seb Larsson’s deep free-kick across the six yard box and Giggs inadvertently turned in the loose ball as he challenged with Phil Bardsley.
United levelled on 52 minutes when Vidic rose above John O’Shea at the far post to head in Cleverley’s corner.
Borini, on loan from Liverpool, held his nerve to score from the penalty spot on 64 minutes and Sunderland then withstood heavy pressure as Adnan Januzaj, Patrice Evra and Michael Carrick all failed to equalise.