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United go from bad to worse

- Moyes’ men lose to Sunderland on penalties
Sunderland players celebrate their victory against Manchester United, on Wednesday

London: Manchester United’s troubled season took another turn for the worse when they lost 1-2 to Sunderland in an error-strewn penalty shootout in their League Cup semi-final on Wednesday.

United looked to be heading for the final against Manchester City when they led 1-0 two minutes from the end of extra time before a dreadful error by goalkeeper David de Gea gifted Sunderland’s Phil Bardsley an equaliser.

Javier Hernandez’s dramatic intervention moments later gave United a 2-1 win on the night and a 3-3 draw on aggregate which sent the tie to penalties.

But to Old Trafford’s disbelief, England striker Danny Welbeck, Adnan Januzaj, Phil Jones and Rafael failed to convert their spot-kicks and it was Sunderland — who missed three penalties of their own — who scraped through to the March 2 showpiece at Wembley.

The outcome left David Moyes facing more scrutiny in his first season as United manager and under pressure to add to his lacklustre squad in the January transfer window.

Asked if criticism of him and his players was fair, Moyes said: “It’s fair if you don’t win at this football club. I understand that.” The Scot, whose side are seventh in the Premier League and in danger of failing to even qualify for next season’s Champions League, added: “David de Gea’s been very good this season. It happens (making mistakes) but that was a costly one.

“The shootout was really poor. I expect better. We didn’t play well tonight... Overall we didn’t really deserve to go through after the way we played. That’s football, we’ll get on with it, pick ourselves up and go again.”

United had been on course to make the final on away goals after Jonny Evans scored with a close-range header shortly before halftime to put them one up. But they laboured throughout and were clinging on for victory when De Gea failed to stop a routine 20-yard shot from Bardsley — a former United player — in the 119th minute and watched as the ball squirmed off his palm and into the corner of the net.