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Derby shocks United in first League Cup semis

MANCHESTER United was upset 0-1 in the League Cup semifinals by Derby on Wednesday, with a sublime strike by Kris Commons ending a 14-match unbeaten streak in all competitions.

In their first major cup semifinal since 1976, the League Championship strugglers dominated the English, European and world champions, who were fortunate not to be going into the second leg at Old Trafford in two weeks needing to recover a greater deficit.

"It was a fantastic result for us considering the performance," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "We could have lost four goals."

Commons provided the decisive touch in the 30th minute when he collected a pass from Mile Sterjovski and from 25 meters lashed it past Tomasz Kuszczak.

"It will be tough to go to Old Trafford and hold on to the 1-0," Commons said. "We'll enjoy it this week - just to beat Manchester United and be able to say that to your kids and grandkids is going to be very special."

It was David Lowe's one and only game as caretaker Derby manager before Nigel Clough takes charge.

The son of famed Derby manager Brian Clough, who turned the club into English champion in 1972, was introduced to the Pride Park crowd before the match, and it seemed to invigorate his new players.

Nigel Clough, who left non-league club Burton after a decade in charge, was now 90 minutes away from reaching the final of the competition his father won four times with Nottingham Forest.

Holder Tottenham was favored to be the opponent in the March 1 final after trouncing Burnley 4-1 in Tuesday's first leg.

Undaunted by United, the Rams raided the visitors from the outset without resembling the side that was 18th in the 24-team League Championship. Derby has been battling to return to the Premier League it left in May with the top-flight's lowest-ever points tally.

Stand-in United captain Nemanja Vidic prevented Derby striker Steve Davies from bundling Rob Hulse's header into the net in the 6th, and minutes later Vidic's defensive partner Jonny Evans had to clear Mile Sterjovski's volley off the line after the Australian connected with Commons' corner.

Despite starting Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench, United still had Carlos Tevez spearheading the attack with Danny Welbeck, the 18-year-old Englishman who scored in Sunday's victory at Southampton in the FA Cup.


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