It’s delicately poised in the League Cup semi-final as Sunderland take a narrow 2-1 lead to the Theatre of Hollow Myths in a fortnight. It’s all up for grabs as to who will get to Wembley to get stuffed by City in what will be seen, now that Man U are out of the FA Cup, as the most glamorous domestic cup final of the season.
This was a tense and scrappy affair, with the Pride of Devon at least able to claim the goal of the evening with Vidic’s header after the interval equalising a Giggs own goal in the first period.
The decisive moment came when ex-City flyer Adam Johnson surged into the Man U area where he was felled by Cleverley. Amazingly, the penalty was given, despite the fact that both Giggs and Rafael were on hand to explain politely to the ref that when Man U are playing, it’s never a penalty against them unless somebody is actually killed. Rafael picked up a yellow card for childish petulance.
Borini converted the spot kick, beating de Gea all ends up – though to be fair, how much penalty practice do Man U keepers get? Rafael was slightly lucky shortly after his petulance booking to escape a second yellow after a blatant foul on goalscorer Borini. The young Brazilian was only spared when the ref noticed what badge he was wearing.
So a narrow lead for Sunderland which they will do well to hang onto in the return leg. The tie is delicately poised at 2-1, but with the possibility of injuries clearing up for Man U and the probability of a penalty or two, you’d have to rank the Pride of Devon as marginal favourites to get handsomely thumped by Manchester’s finest in the showpiece at Wembley.