Sunderland beats United on pens in League Cup semi

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 22, 2014 at 6:04 pm •  Published: January 22, 2014

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester United's wretched campaign reached a new low on Wednesday after a penalty shootout defeat to Sunderland in a dramatic League Cup semifinal left the beleaguered English champions staring at a season without silverware.

Sunderland will play Manchester City in the March 2 final at Wembley Stadium after goalkeeper Vito Mannone saved Rafael da Silva's decisive spot kick to seal a 2-1 victory in the shootout, after the semifinal finished 3-3 on aggregate after 120 minutes.

With barely a minute left of extra time, United was on the brink of going through on away goals after Jonny Evans scored a 37th-minute header to make it 2-2 on aggregate. But the match swayed Sunderland's way when United goalkeeper David de Gea fumbled in a shot from Phil Bardsley.

Javier Hernandez forced penalties, though, by scoring in the first minute of injury time.

"We did not play well enough on the night," said United manager David Moyes, who has just the Champions League title to go for in a tumultuous first season at Old Trafford.

"If we were going to (go through), we were going to stumble over the line and get through. It wasn't because we played well enough."

In a nervy shootout full of poorly taken penalties, Danny Welbeck and Phil Jones blazed shots over the bar for United and Adnan Januzaj had an effort saved by Mannone, who then dived to his right to parry away Rafael's attempt and earn Sunderland a first appearance in a major final in 22 years.

Adam Johnson had earlier missed a chance to put Sunderland through when his penalty — the team's fifth — was saved.

"Unbelievable, just unbelievable," Mannone said.

Sunderland, which is fighting relegation in the Premier League, has already beaten City this season but that was back in November. City hasn't lost in 18 games since then and will be the heavy favorite.

"We need to be practically perfect to win," Sunderland's Uruguayan manager Gus Poyet said. "I hope we aren't terrible and concede four or five goals."