SUNDERLAND will take a lead into the Capital One Cup semi-final second leg after a Stadium of Light triumph over Manchester United.
Fabio Borini’s penalty handed Sunderland the advantage for the return fixture at Old Trafford in a fortnight after an impressive display from Gus Poyet’s side against a below-par Man United.
Ryan Giggs, who earlier hit the bar, gave Sunderland the lead on the stroke of half-time when he diverted the ball into his own net.
United regained parity early in the second half when Nemanja Vidic headed home from a Tom Cleverley corner.
But Sunderland grabbed a potentially crucial lead for the second leg when Borini smashed home from the spot after substitute Adam Johnson was brought down.
New signing Marcos Alonso made his Sunderland debut, as one of seven changes from the weekend’s FA Cup victory over League One Carlisle.
Ex-Manchester United duo Wes Brown and John O’Shea reunited in central defence for the first time in five games, with the latter joined in the starting line-up by Phil Bardsley, Lee Cattermole, Steven Fletcher, Emanuele Giaccherini and Fabio Borini.
Man United boss David Moyes also made seven changes, including starts for ex-Sunderland loanees Danny Welbeck and Johnny Evans.
Fabio Borini produced the first effort on goal in the 13th minute when he collected Steven Fletcher’s lay-off on the edge of the area before scuffing a right-footed shot harmlessly wide of the far post.
After a tepid opening, the woodwork denied Man United the first goal in the 25th minute.
Ryan Giggs picked the ball up midway inside the Sunderland half, drove towards the box and let fly with a left-footed shot from 20 yards which deflected off John O’Shea and crashed against the top of the crossbar.
United had a ‘goal’ ruled out in the 38th minute when the ball came to Adnan Januzaj, just inside the Sunderland area who let fly with a right-footed shot that cracked against the back of Giggs, loitering in an offside position.
Januzaj tucked away the rebound, but the linesman’s flag had already been raised for the initial effort.
But after such an ordinary 45 minutes, Sunderland took the lead in first half stoppage time when Seb Larsson curled a right-footed free-kick into the United area.
It was knocked back across goal by Wes Brown where Giggs, under pressure from Phil Bardsley four yards out, could only divert the ball into his own net.
HALF-TIME Sunderland 1 Man United 0
Sunderland’s lead only lasted until the 51st minute when Nemanja Vidic got above both O’Shea and Brown at the back post to head home Tom Cleverley’s corner.
Borini blasted into the side netting at the near post in the 57th minute after being played in down the left-hand side of the area by Seb Larsson.
Only a brilliant save from David De Gea prevented Larsson from regaining the lead for the Black Cats in the 62nd minute.
Vidic’s loose header attempting to clear landed at the feet of the Swede, 10 yards out, who managed to keep his balance sufficiently to crack a powerful half-volley which De Gea pushed away to his right.
Moments later, Sunderland were back in front from the penalty spot.
Substitute Adam Johnson was clipped by a needless tackle from Tom Cleverley, with the linesman raising his flag for a spot-kick.
Borini kept his cool to smash the ball into the roof of the net for his third goal in Sunderland colours.
Rafael was booked for protesting the penalty and was very fortunate to escape a second yellow card seconds later for a late challenge on Borini.
Januzaj went close to an equaliser in the 71st minute when he cut inside from the left and curled a right-footed shot towards the far post which drifted just inches wide.
The 18-year-old again went close in the 78th minute when he met Antonio Valencia’s pull-back from the right with a right-footed shot which looped onto the roof of the net.
FULL-TIME Sunderland 2 Man United 1
SUNDERLAND: Mannone, Bardsley, O’Shea, Brown, Alonso, Cattermole, Ki, Larsson, Giaccherini (Johnson 56), Borini, Fletcher (Altidore 72). Subs not used: Dixon, Gardner, Celustka, Colback, Ji. Booked: Giaccherini (51), Bardsley (60), Altidore (77), Mannone (90)
MAN UNITED: De Gea, Rafael, Evans (Smalling 61), Vidic, Evra, Valencia (Hernandez 87), Carrick, Cleverley (Fletcher 74), Giggs, Januzaj, Welbeck. Subs not used: Lindegaard, Chicharito, Kagawa, Buttner, Zaha. Booked: Evra (24), Rafael (63), Smalling (83)