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WEMBLEY COUNTDOWN: United's journey includes a rare defeat

PUBLISHED: 14:11 27 February 2009 | UPDATED: 15:59 07 September 2010

MANCHESTER UNITED began their Carling Cup challenge with an 3-1 win over Middlesbrough at Old Trafford in September. World player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring and although Boro levelled early in the second half, Ryan Giggs (1) and Nani

MANCHESTER UNITED began their Carling Cup challenge with an 3-1 win over Middlesbrough at Old Trafford in September. World player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring and although Boro levelled early in the second half, Ryan Giggs (1) and Nani added two more.

The Red Devils welcomed Championship side QPR to Old Trafford in November but they needed a Carlos Tevez (2) penalty in the second half to see off the plucky Hoops.

Next up for the European champions in early December were Blackburn Rovers in the quarter-finals, again at Old Trafford - Tevez (3) scoring four times in a 5-3 thriller.

The Argentinian opened the scoring in the first half and Nani made it 2-0 at half-time. Although Rovers pulled a goal back early in the second half, Tevez then bagged a brace - one from the spot - for a 4-1 lead.

But Blackburn hit back with a late double to leave the score 4-3. Tevez had the last word though, easing the Reds' nerves with his fourth in the 90th minute.

Yet, in the semi-final first leg against struggling Derby County (4) in early January, the champions of Europe suffered a rare defeat, losing 1-0 at Pride Park.

But in the second leg at Old Trafford, Sir Alex Ferguson's men hit the ground running with three goals in the first 34 minutes, from Nani, John O'Shea, and inevitably, Tevez. Yet, Derby refused to roll over and scored with a penalty to make it 3-2 on aggregate. Ronaldo (5) then grabbed United's fourth, also from the spot, before Derby rounded off the scoring in stoppage time.

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