MAN UTD 1, CRYSTAL PALACE 2
Sir Alex Ferguson apologised to Manchester United fans following their embarrassing Carling Cup, quarter-final exit at the hands of npower Championship club Crystal Palace.
The Reds manager offered no excuses for the defeat as he admitted his side got what they deserved – nothing. They lost to goals from substitutes Darren Ambrose and Glenn Murray who headed the winner in the first period of extra time.
“I would like to apologise to fans because it was not a Manchester United performance, and that is not taking anything away from Crystal Palace.
“It was a fantastic, mammoth effort and Palace worked their socks off to get to the semi finals. It was very disappointing.
“Their second goal was offside and we are not getting any luck from linesmen, but again I cannot take anything from Palace who fought hard and deserved their win. It is a very disappointing night for Manchester United.”
It was a frustrating night as United, whose side still contained a wealth of experience including nine full internationals, failed to sparkle as the South London club caused a massive upset.
And not even the introduction of Fergie fledglings Ezekiel Fryers, Ravel Morrison and Paul Pogba was able to alter the course of the game.
Palace joined Coventry City and Southend United, two other lower division sides, which have knocked United out of the competition in the last six years.
The opening period was desperately disappointing as neither goalkeepers were extended.
United’s Ben Amos was troubled most by his own team mates with a series of errant back passes while Wilfried Zaha’s pacy runs unsettled their defence.
Mame Diouf had United’s best chance of the opening half, but his spectacular overhead kick cleared the crossbar.
United also lost Fabio da Silva and Dimitar Berbatov, both through injury, as they were replaced by Fryers and Morrison as youth was given its head.
The start to the second half was appreciably better as United began to carve out chances.
Antonio Valencia dispossessed Anthony Gardner as he broke clear only to amazingly shoot wide with only keeper Lewis Price who also fumbled a long-range drive from Morrison.
Yet it was Palace who stole ahead midway through the half through a spectacular 30-yard drive from substitute Ambrose which arrowed into the top corner of the net.
What a way for Palace to end their goaslscoring drought which had spanned 8hrs 43 mins.
Pogba, United’s third fledgling substitute, grazed the top of the crossbar with a 25-yard drive.
United were behind barely three minutes as they equalised through a penalty from Macheda who also won the kick. He went down after having his shirt pulled by Paddy McCarthy.
United received a let off in the last minute following a mistake by Fryers, but substitute Glenn Murray’s angled shot flashed into the side netting.
Palace regained the lead in the 98th minute when Murray was left free inside the six-yard box to head home a left-wing free kick from Ambrose.
The visitors would have made it 3-1 moments later but for a fine save from Amos to keep out a 30-yard free kick from Ambrose.
United were left to rely in long-range efforts from Darron Gibson and Federico Macheda as they looked to find a way back into the game.