Manchester United slumped to a third consecutive loss for the first time in 13 years when Sunderland added to manager David Moyes' troubles by winning the first leg of their League Cup semifinal 2-1 Tuesday ngiht.
The setback against the Premier League's last-place team completed a hat trick of 2-1 losses at the start of 2014 for Moyes, in his first season as Alex Ferguson's successor.
United, which won the Premier League by 11 points last season before Ferguson retired, trails first-place Arsenal by 11 points after losing to Tottenham on New Year's Day. The Red Devils lost to Swansea at Old Trafford on Sunday in the third round of the FA Cup.
''(The fans) know we are going through a difficult time,'' Moyes said. ''They have probably never seen it as bad as this for a long time. But I am determined to put it right, I'm sure we will.''
The Red Devils can still reach the League Cup final at Wembley if they overturn the deficit in the second leg of the total-goals series at Old Trafford on Jan 22.
Sunderland took the lead in first-half stoppage time when 40-year-old United midfielder Ryan Giggs inadvertently bundled the ball into his own net while under pressure from Phil Bardsley.
Nemanja Vidic tied the score when he scored on a header in the 52nd minute, but Fabio Borini converted a penalty kick for the hosts in the 65th after Tom Cleverley fouled Adam Johnson.
''I feel we are having to play the opposition and the officials at this moment in time,'' Moyes said after the match, refereed by Andre Marriner. ''Maybe I've got to understand that's what happens at Man United. But if we do, we certainly aren't getting much in our favor at this moment in time.''
Defending champion Atletico Madrid tied 1-1 at Valencia for an away-goal advantage in their fifth-round Copa del Rey matchup.
Atletico's Raul Garcia put the visitors ahead in the 72nd minute of the first-leg game after a goalkeeping error by Vicente Guaita. Helder Postiga tied the score in the third minute of stoppage time.
Atletico, which had won its previous seven games in all competitions, hosts Barcelona on Saturday in the Spanish league. Atletico trails first-place Barcelona on goal difference.
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- David Moyes
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- Alex Ferguson