SUNDERLAND 2 MANCHESTER UNITED 1
Fabio Borini's winner lifted Sunderland's hopes of Capital One Cup glory as Manchester United slipped to a third successive defeat.
The Italian's 65th-minute penalty handed Gus Poyet's men a 2-1 first-leg advantage in their semi-final showdown with United, who misfired once again on Wearside.
Borini converted to condemn the visitors to three defeats in a row for the first time since May 2001, and the result will send Sunderland to Old Trafford on January 22 with high hopes of reaching their first major final since 1992.
The Black Cats, who remain rooted to the foot of the Barclays Premier League table, had taken the lead at the end of the first half as veteran Ryan Giggs suffered a night to forget on Wearside. The 40-year-old proved a central figure, but not in the way he might have wished.
Adnan Januzaj's 38th-minute strike, which would have given United the lead, was chalked off because the Welshman was offside when the 18-year-old's initial shot hit him in front of goal, and it was Giggs who handed the home side the advantage in injury time.
Giggs found himself at the far post when Wes Brown drilled Sebastian Larsson's free-kick in his direction and as Phil Bardsley attempted to dispatch it, he turned it into his own net.
The visitors dragged themselves back into the game when central defender Nemanja Vidic struck with a 52nd-minute header, but the drama was far from over.
Substitute Adam Johnson lured Tom Cleverley into a challenge on the edge of the box and, after consulting his assistant, referee Andre Marriner pointed to the spot to hand Borini his big chance.
The tie, of course, is far from over and United may approach the second leg confident of clawing back the deficit.
However, they have already lost five times at Old Trafford this season and Sunderland will travel dreaming of a first League Cup final since 1985.
The Black Cats started confidently against United. Debutant Marcos Alonso proved useful down the left, while Ki Sung-yueng's invention from central midfield kept the United rearguard on its toes. But in truth, the home side never threatened until the closing stages of the half, and it was the Red Devils who had the greater threat.
After Borini and Larsson had gone for goal from distance at the other end, the visitors nearly took the lead when Michael Carrick picked out Giggs and the Welshman was allowed to unleash a shot against the crossbar.
With Carrick starting to pull the strings and full-back Patrice Evra and midfielder Januzaj finding space, United started to find their rhythm and Bardsley had to head away Januzaj's 33rd-minute shot as it arced toward the top corner.
The United teenager thought he had scored five minutes later when, after his initial effort had hit an offside Giggs in front of goal, he rammed home the rebound. However, an offside flag ended his celebrations. Manager David Moyes' disappointment was to increase two minutes into injury time at the end of the first half when former United defender Brown turned Larsson's free-kick across goal and Giggs bundled it into his own net under pressure from another former club-mate, Bardsley.
It took the visitors just seven minutes of the second half to restore parity when Cleverley's floated corner was headed home by Vidic. But Sunderland, refused to succumb and regained the lead when Cleverley tripped Johnson. Referee Marriner awarded a penalty on the advice of assistant Peter Bankes. United were furious but replays suggested it was a rash move from Cleverley and Borini sent the goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot to score.