(CNN) -- Midfielder Kris Commons scored a superb long-range goal to give Championship strugglers Derby County a shock 1-0 Carling Cup semifinal first leg victory over a lackluster Manchester United on Wednesday evening.
Kris Commons proved the Derby match-winner as Manchester United slumped to a shock first leg defeat.
Watched by new manager Nigel Clough, the son of Derby legend Brian Clough who led the club to the league title in 1972, Derby belied their current form to take a narrow advantage into the second lead at Old Trafford on January 20.
The only goal came from Commons on the half-hour mark.
The Scottish international collected a pass 20-meters out before cracking a thunderous left-foot shot that flew beyond goalkeeper Thomas Kuszczak's outstretched arm and into the bottom corner of the net.
Derby created by far the better chances, with Commons at the hub of all their best moments -- and with 10 minutes to go a superb piece of skill so nearly doubled the Rams' advantage.
Commons spun defender John O'Shea and raced towards goal before firing a fierce shot. Kuszczak did well to parry the effort but the ball fell to on-rushing striker Rob Hulse who somehow prodded over the bar from close-range with the goal at his mercy.
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson brought superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney off the substitutes' bench midway through the second-half, but the European champions never looked likely to turn things around in front of a packed Pride Park crowd.
Despite the result, United will still be firm favorites to reach the final at Wembley next month, where their likely opponents will be holders Tottenham, who beat Burnley 4-1 on Tuesday night.
A clearly disappointed Ferguson was gracious in defeat. "The positive to take from the game is the fact we only lost 1-0. It was a fantastic result for us tonight considering the performance," he told Sky Sports.
"In cup competitions you need a little bit of luck and we certainly had some tonight. We just didn't play very well but we have anothe match to turn things around."