Ferguson apologises after Man Utd are dumped out of the Cup
Giant-killers Crystal Palace celebrate 2-1 victory in front of stunned Old Trafford crowd
MANCHESTER UNITED boss Sir Alex Ferguson apologised to fans after his side were sensationally dumped out of the Carling Cup by Crystal Palace last night. The Londoners pulled off a 2-1 extra-time victory in front of a stunned Old Trafford to set up a semi-final clash with fellow Championship side Cardiff.
A visibly shocked Ferguson said later: "I'd like to apologise to the fans... That was not a Manchester United performance and I'm very disappointed. We had a lot of possession but didn't do anything with it."
After a poor first half, the tie exploded into life midway through the second period when Darren Ambrose unleashed a spectacular 35-yard strike to give Palace the lead.
United, fielding an XI containing nine internationals, levelled on 69 minutes when Federico Macheda scored from the penalty spot and it was all-square at the end of 90 minutes. Eight minutes into extra-time Murray outjumped the sluggish United defence to head home Ambrose's free-kick and send the 5,000 travelling Palace fans wild.
Ferguson wondered later if Murray hadn't been offside when he scored but the United boss didn’t want to take anything away from the victors. In comments that were a veiled criticism of his own side's effort, Ferguson said: "I wish them every success and hope they get to the final because it was a fantastic, mammoth effort from them tonight. Every one of their players worked their socks off to try to get to the semi-final."
It’s a night that the 28-year-old Murray won’t forget in a hurry, his winning goal being the reward for a decade of unglamorous endeavour. Having begun his career with Workington, Murray had spells at Carlisle, Stockport, Rochdale and Brighton before joining Palace last summer.
Palace now find themselves one game away from an appearance at Wembley against either Manchester City or Liverpool. That would provide an invaluable cash injection for a club that went into administration in 2010, shortly before a takeover and the appointment as manager of Dougie Freedman.
"I am so proud of the lads," said Freedman. "To get through to the semi-finals from where we have come from in the last couple of years [with] relegation zones and administrations. We will enjoy tonight."