Skip to main content

Manchester United's season goes from bad to worse after cup exit

January 23, 2014 -- Updated 2119 GMT (0519 HKT)
An error from Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea looked to have gifted Sunderland victory in their English League Cup semifinal when the Spaniard let Phil Bardsley's shot into the net.
An error from Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea looked to have gifted Sunderland victory in their English League Cup semifinal when the Spaniard let Phil Bardsley's shot into the net.
HIDE CAPTION
De Gea blunder
Hernandez joy
Wembley fever
Don Vito
Dis-United
Moyes malaise
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Manchester United knocked out of English League Cup by lowly Sunderland
  • Sunderland win on penalties after a dramatic finale to the semifinal tie at Old Trafford
  • Four Manchester United players miss in the shootout as Sunderland win 2-1
  • Result heaps pressure on beleaguered Manchester United manager David Moyes

Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook

(CNN) -- It was a penalty shootout that summed up Manchester United's season -- errant, careless and ultimately forlorn.

This was the team that have dominated English football for years, one of the biggest on the planet.

Yet here they were, slugging it out from the penalty spot with lowly Sunderland in the semifinal of the English League Cup, with a place at Wembley at stake.

Usually so composed in pressure situations, United's players blinked, four of them missing from 12 yards out as this interminable season took another turn for the worse.

Since Sunderland last won silverware in 1973, Manchester United have won 25 domestic trophies, but before the end of January the only competition they are still in with a realistic chance of winning is the European Champions League.

Gerard Pique: Shakira is on my iPod
Footballer fights back after cancer
CNN FC: Moyes replaces Ferguson

Yet the man who presided over the majority of those 25 trophies -- Alex Ferguson -- has gone and the man who had replaced him is looking more beleaguered by the day.

David Moyes trudged off the field as Sunderland players swarmed around their goalkeeper Vito Mannone, who saved the penalty that sent them to the final of England's second most prestigious cup competition.

They will now face Manchester CIty in the final on March 2 while United, and Moyes especially, will face more intense questioning about the direction his club is going in.

"Criticism is fair if you don't win at this football club," Moyes told Sky Sports after the game.

"Credit to Sunderland -- they played well and we didn't. We've played well in a lot of games this season and not got the rewards but we didn't deserve any rewards tonight.

"When we had the chances to get a second goal we didn't finish it off. I've got no problem them getting through -- they deserved it."

In the end, United were fortunate to force the game into penalties after goalkeeper David De Gea fumbled a shot from Phil Bardsley into the net -- a gaffe that appeared to have handed Sunderland victory in the final seconds of the game.

Luckily for the Spanish keeper, just 60 seconds later a dramatic goal from Javier Hernandez with practically the last kick of the match gave United one last shot at redemption. One which they couldn't take.

I've got no problem with Sunderland getting through -- they deserved it
David Moyes, Manchester United manager

Of De Gea's mistake Moyes said: "David's been really good this season. People do make mistakes but it was a costly one. That's football and that's the way it is just now."

Of the four missed penalties from his side Moyes simply added: "That was poor. I would expect better."

Trailing 2-1 from the first leg, United took the lead on 37 minutes through Jonny Evans to level the scores on aggregate. But with no more goals at the end of 90 minutes the match went into extra time.

Knowing they needed to score to go through Sunderland piled men forward in search of a winner but no-one at Old Trafford could have been prepared for the tumult that was to come.

Phil Bardsley, who spent five years as a Manchester United player, fired in a low shot from outside the box that De Gea found too hot to handle.

As Sunderland's players celebrated in front of their 9,000 traveling fans, Moyes rolled his eyes as the prospect of a Wembley final ebbed away.

Looking back at 150 years of soccer
Police tackles football betting scandal
Quest: Why should sports clubs be exempt?

But just over 60 seconds later it was United's fans celebrating as Hernandez turned in a cross to lock the scores up on aggregate and send the tie to penalties.

With the tension around the stadium palpable, the first three players to take spot kicks missed, before Darren Fletcher put Manchester United 1-0 up.

But that was the only success United would register from 12 yards as successful penalties from Marcos Alonso and Ki Sung-Yueng put Sunderland 2-1 in front, either side of an Adnan Januzaj miss.

Phil Jones was the next player to go wide, ballooning his effort over the bar, before Sunderland's Adam Johnson squandered the opportunity to settle the tie.

All of which meant Rafael had to score to keep United in the match, but his spot kick was saved by Mannone, sparking wild scenes of celebration from the visitors.

Sunderland manager Gus Poyet, who is battling to keep his side in the Premier League, told Sky Sports: "This feeling is for the fans. It has been a difficult season but look at them now, this is for them.

"To have a day of football like today is great for everybody and great for football. It is a great story -- let's see if we can go one better.

"The things that happened today were incredible but the players were outstanding, they are trying hard to learn so credit to them."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
CNN Football Club
Be part of CNN's coverage of European Champions League matches and join the social debate.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
The 1989 Hillsborough stadium tragedy, which claimed 96 lives, brought the red and the blue halves of Liverpool together.
CNN's Don Riddell says the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy has caused irreparable damage to the families of the 96 victims and the survivors.
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
The Champions league trophy stands on show during the draw for the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions league at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon on March 21, 2014. AFP PHOTO/FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
Two European heavyweights will collide in the Champions League semifinals after Bayern Munich and Real Madrid were drawn together in Switzerland.
March 24, 2014 -- Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)
West Bromwich Albion's French striker Nicolas Anelka looks on during the English Premier League football match between West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United at The Hawthorns in West Bromwich, central England, on January 1, 2014.
England prides itself on being the home of football, but is the nation dysfunctional in dealing with racist abuse?
March 18, 2014 -- Updated 1339 GMT (2139 HKT)
In a city where football is a religion, Liverpool and England striker Daniel Sturridge is fast becoming a deity.
French former football player Zinedine Zidane reacts during the gala football 'Match Against Poverty' organized by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on March 4, 2014 in Bern.
Some of the biggest names in football lined up for a charity match, but CNN's Tom McGowan wonders if they can help beat poverty.
March 4, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
"Everyone is scared about war -- they are very nervous," former Ukraine football star Oleg Luzhny says of the rising tensions with Russia.
February 26, 2014 -- Updated 1807 GMT (0207 HKT)
Bayern Munich's present success rests on one key decision, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge tells CNN.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 0922 GMT (1722 HKT)
Neymar
"More than a Club." It is an image Barcelona has carefully cultivated, but could the controversial deal to sign Neymar sour that view?
February 1, 2014 -- Updated 1825 GMT (0225 HKT)
Affectionately known as "the wise man of Hortaleza," Luis Aragones -- who died aged 75 -- left the legacy of helping Spain's ascension to the top.
January 23, 2014 -- Updated 2118 GMT (0518 HKT)
Real Madrid hasn't won the European Champions League in over a decade, but the Spanish club is invincible in one field -- making money.
The naming of the world's best footballer is not all that it seems, says CNN's James Masters.
ADVERTISEMENT