Derby herald past glories with fanfare by Commons

Derby County 1 Manchester United 0

Under his father, old Big Head, defeating Manchester United was an expectation not a shock. But last night Nigel Clough, Derby's new manager, who takes the team for the first time this morning, watched as the Championship also-rans stunned the Champions of Europe to take a slim advantage into the second-leg of this Carling Cup semi-final.

Clough senior won the European Cup too, albeit with Nottingham Forest, twice, having also taken Derby to the competition's semi-finals, but something more modest is expected of his more modest son. Nevertheless it was a remarkable evening, all the more remarkable because Derby should have come away with a far superior advantage. The final should be firmly in their grasp.

Indeed how often has Sir Alex Ferguson been reduced to saying the following after a match? "It's a fantastic result for us considering the performance," before adding: "We could have lost four goals. I think we were lucky. Lucky to only lose 1-0." Lucky they were. Derby had two chances kicked off the goal-line, with Rob Hulse also firing over, from almost point-blank range, as they dominated. Rarely have United been so disjointed, so out-of-sorts, so ineffective.

But it was more remarkable than that. The attention was understandably on Nigel Clough but Derby, last night, were led, for the first and last time by David Lowe, the former striker, now the club's academy director who, until recently, was coaching the under-eights. Even then there was more to comment on with Lowe recalling Andy Todd, an outcast this season, along with others who have not figured such as Mo Camara and Mile Sterjovski. All played their part.

And it was the latter who teed up Derby's goal which was fiercely struck, from a full 27 yards, by the man-of-the-match Kris Commons. The fanfare was expected to be solely for Clough. Instead he shared it with the Commons man. Sweet music indeed with the winger, who played in behind Hulse, and ran riot, admitting afterwards that United might play "all their top boys" in the return leg at Old Trafford. But that claim was met with a riposte from the Derby – and former United – goalkeeper Roy Carroll who rightly pointed out that was the case by the final whistle last night.

Carroll had more to say, adding: "I think I didn't have a shot to save in the whole 90 minutes" which, amazingly, was true. Only once was he in trouble – when he watched, beaten, as Cristiano Ronaldo's free-kick dipped and spun close to the angle of post and cross-bar. Ronaldo came on, as did Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick, but to little effect. It was Derby's night and such was their determination, indefatigability and work-rate that they were not to be knocked out of their stride.

Ferguson denied that in two weeks time he will field a full-strength side, preferring to persevere with younger players and absolving Darron Gibson and Danny Wellbeck of blame even if the team he fielded yesterday was hardly a callow one. It was bad news, indeed, for Carlos Tevez who, newly-arrived from his break in Argentina, and with his future in increasing doubt, put in an abject display, looking a pale shadow of a £30m-plus acquisition.

And so Derby could do what Burnley failed to achieve the previous evening, holding onto a lead against a Premier League opponent, even if they have another 90 plus minutes to negotiate at Old Trafford, where Clough will be in the dug-out, if they are to, all so improbably, reach Wembley. What an occasion that would be for the Cloughs whose evening was awash with memories – and the odd moment of jest with the PA announcer playing XTC's "Making plans for Nigel" in his pre-match playlist.

He did not take to the field, did not take the applause but the effect was undeniable, as he took his seat in the directors box.

Clough had spoken to the players' beforehand and the response was immediate with Steve Davies, allowed to reach a hook back into the penalty box from a corner, pushing the ball past Tomasz Kuszcak only for Nemanja Vidic to block as he tried to force it home. Seconds later and a fierce half-volley from Sterjovski was hacked off the line by Jonny Evans with Kuszczak beaten.

Soon the goalkeeper was beaten again and, this time, Commons found the net. But United had an hour to respond. Surely they would? But they did not. Passes went astray, possession was surrendered, alarm spread. Ferguson looked, and was, shocked. "We didn't play well," he said. "We over-worried about the crossing and set piece play. We looked panicky at the back."

They did. Commons turned John O'Shea, his rebound setting up Hulse, after dragging a shot narrowly wide himself. Maybe, probably, those misses will be rued. Still, it should finally fire Derby's season and Clough, along with Lowe, can take credit for that as he entertained Ferguson in the manager's office last night.

Derby County (4-4-2): Carroll; Connolly, Todd (Savage, 87), Nyatanga, Camara; Sterjovski (Teale, 58), Addison, Green, Davies (Barazite, 80); Commons, Hulse. Substitutes not used: Bywater (gk), Dickinson, Powell, Hines.

Manchester United (4-4-2): Kuszczak; Rafael, Vidic, Evans, O'Shea; Gibson, Anderson (Carrick, 74), Scholes (Ronaldo, 63), Nani; Wellbeck (Rooney, 63), Tevez. Substitutes not used; Amos (gk), Giggs, Fletcher, Possebon.

Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning:The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
Sport
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier league

The Independent's live blog of today's Premier League action

News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam