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Friday, Dec. 2, 2011

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Fair means or foul: Manchester United's Federico Macheda (center) goes down for a penalty during his team's League Cup quarterfinal against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Wednesday. AP PHOTO

Crystal Palace dumps Manchester United out of League Cup


MANCHESTER, England — Premier League giant Manchester United was knocked out of the League Cup quarterfinals on Wednesday by Crystal Palace, the second-tier club scoring in extra time for a 2-1 victory and its first win at Old Trafford since 1989.

Former Premier League midfielder Darren Ambrose put Palace ahead in the 65th minute and a weak United lineup needed a penalty equalizer from Federico Macheda four minutes later to take the game into extra time.

Striker Glenn Murray then headed a free kick by Ambrose past goalkeeper Ben Amos in the eighth minute of added time to earn Palace a semifinal against fellow League Championship side Cardiff.

Having won on Tuesday, Liverpool and Manchester City will meet in the other semifinal.

Palace, which only narrowly avoided relegation to the third tier last season, is 12th in the League Championship after five games without either a win or a goal scored.

But it surprised the defending Premier League champions, which had not lost a game anywhere against Palace since May 1991.

"We've had a quiet period in the season but we came here in confident mood and the spirit is fantastic," Ambrose said.

"We've got a great team spirit, it's a lot different from last year: we can beat anyone, and we showed that tonight.

"We weren't worried about the lack of goals. We've got goal scorers and that showed tonight. It was a great finish from Glenn on the second."

United fullback Fabio da Silva was the only player retained by manager Alex Ferguson from the team that drew 1-1 against Newcastle in the Premier League at the weekend. But Fabio limped out after 37 minutes and was replaced by 19-year-old Ezekiel Fryers.

Ambrose put Palace ahead with a 35-meter shot into the top corner for his team's first goal in 550 minutes. Macheda scored from the penalty spot after he had been pulled back by Patrick McCarthy, but Murray nodded in the winning goal.

Six moving on in Europa


LONDON — PAOK Thessaloniki scored twice in the first 13 minutes against Tottenham before defending with 10 men for almost two thirds of the match to clinch a place in the next round of the Europa League on Wednesday.

Dimitris Salpingidis and Stefanos Athanasiadis scored before Konstantinos Stafylidis was sent off for handball. Luka Modric converted the resulting penalty but PAOK won 2-1, leaving the English club facing elimination.

Sunderland fires Bruce


SUNDERLAND, England — Steve Bruce became the first Premier League manager to lose his job this season when Sunderland fired him on Wednesday following a run of just one win from eight matches.

The northeast club slipped to 16th in the 20-team standings, just two points above the relegation zone, after losing 2-1 at home to Wigan on Saturday.

Bruce bolstered the squad during the offseason with the signings of players including Manchester United duo John O'Shea and Wes Brown but has overseen losses to local rival Newcastle, newly promoted Norwich and Wigan, which moved off the bottom of the standings after its first win since Aug. 27.

"This has been a difficult time for everyone at Sunderland and is not a situation that any of us envisaged or expected to be in," Sunderland chairman Ellis Short said. "It is my job as chairman to act in the best interests of our football club at all times and I can assure everyone that this is not a decision that I have taken lightly.

"Sadly, results this season have simply not been good enough and I feel the time is right to make a change."

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