After leading for the majority of the match, Manchester United came unstuck against Sunderland in the second leg of the League Cup semifinal at Old Trafford on January 22 having exited the competition due to awful attempts at penalty-kick conversions.
Johnny Evans took the lead within 37 minutes and United looked destined for an all-Manchester final against local rivals City had it not been for a dramatic 119th minute equaliser from Phil Bardsley. Javier Hernandez, though, restored United's one-goal advantage just a brace of minutes later to ensure a penalty shoot-out, which United flopped in - only Darren Fletcher scored his spot kick.
David de Gea - 4
Can't think of any saves he actually needed to make in normal play… but perhaps could show more confidence when attempting to come for crosses. A calamitous error saw Sunderland equalise but, fortunately for the Spaniard, Javier Hernandez bailed him out moments later.
Rafael da Silva - 5
Didn't return the best of performances and had the chance to keep United in the shoot-out but failed to convert.
Chris Smalling - 7
Made some timely headers whenever his own penalty area was under threat from crosses coming in from wide. Like Evans, showed good positioning as he denied shots - predominantly from Borini - with blocks. Smalling was troubled in the 80th minute as an incoming Steven Fletcher appeared to put the pressure on and he spooned his attempted clearance.
Johnny Evans - 8.5
The goal-scorer. His positioning throughout was good. Got into a fight with Fabio Borini's boot - not sure who came off the worst. Shielded the goal-mouth well and did his job well in the final ten minutes where there were periods where Sunderland threatened.
Alexander Buttner - 7
Performed admirably and, just before the break, denied a half-chance from Wes Brown as he nodded the Englishman's headed effort over the line for a corner kick.
Michael Carrick - 7
Made effective clearances around the danger area, contributing well in the defensive third. Completed 92% of his passes before the break. His performance was not without flaws as, a quarter of an hour from the game's end, he had the opportunity to continue a counter attack but his pass was hopeless.
Darren Fletcher - 7
Hit the post with an adventurous run up the field on t he 35th minute mark, striking the post. Like a good captain he put away his spot kick to put the pressure on Sunderland at the game's death.
Adnan Januzaj - 9
It is a sign of his talent that he is effectively carrying the United midfield at times throughout this season. He was always looking to do something positive when attempting a dribble and it was his corner kick that found Danny Welbeck who flicked the ball on (perhaps unintentionally) to eventual goal-scorer Evans. Mugged off Marcos Alonso with a creative reverse pass nutmeg - a player he bettered on numerous occasions. Was equally as energetic in the second half, occupying threatening positions from wide right.
Shinji Kagawa - 7.5
Linked well with Januzaj in the first 45 minutes. His best plays came when he was positioned centrally. His withdrawal was a strange decision considering he potentially had an assist in him…
Danny Welbeck - 6.5
Got the assist that fed Johnny Evans, who dutifully headed into the net in the first half. Sliced his penalty in the shoot-out.
Javier Hernandez - 7.5
Had an early header saved by Vito Mannone. While he did not have as many touches of the football as those in midfield, that is not particularly his fault. By trade, he is a penalty-box striker, yet the service he received was poor. Drew a crucial foul in a great position in injury time but the free-kick yielded no goal. Could have sealed the win in the first half of extra time but, bizarrely, put his shot wide of the goal. The Mexican, though, put his otherwise underwhelming performance behind him to grab the vital final goal that secured the penalty shoot-out.
Substitutions: Patrice Evra and Antonio Valencia.
image: © joncandy