Michael Mifsud, a Maltese forward nicknamed the 'Mosquito', provided a true sting in the tail for Sir Alex Ferguson's selection gamble with both goals as Coventry City claimed a Carling Cup upset against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
United, weakened by the absence of a host of first-team regulars, were outplayed and outfought throughout by Iain Dowie's team, who booked their place in the fourth round with unexpected ease.
Ever since a then unknown Paul Scholes marked his senior United debut by scoring twice in a League Cup victory at Port Vale 13 years ago, Ferguson has cocked a deaf ear to suggestions that his preference for youth over experience in this particular cup has devalued the competition.
Yet turning to the club's lesser lights has not always resulted in success for Ferguson. York City humiliated United by claiming a 3-0 League Cup victory at Old Trafford in September 1995, while non-League Exeter City escaped with a 0-0 draw in the FA Cup third round three years ago
Sprinkled among the present crop of youngsters, however, were multi-million pound purchases such as Nani and Anderson and neither they, nor their junior colleagues, appeared capable of competing with Coventry's energy and desire in the first half.
Dowie's team, having suffered a 4-1 defeat at Ipswich at the weekend, were clearly under orders to show an improvement from that display and they were fully deserving of their lead when Mifsud opened the scoring on 27 minutes.
It was a goal that United should have prevented. Leon Best's cross-field ball was easily taken by captain Michael Doyle and, unchallenged by United right-back Phil Bardsley, Doyle directed the ball to the far post where the lurking Mifsud was on hand to score from close range.
The former Kaiserslautern forward displayed a healthy arrogance all night long, never more so than when he hit the far post with back-heel flick four minutes after putting Coventry ahead.
Despite falling behind, United just could not lift themselves to get back into the game before the interval. The anticipated fightback failed to materialise and it was the Championship team who went closest to adding to the score when impressive midfielder Robbie Simpson sent a right-foot strike over the crossbar from 20 yards on 43 minutes.
Ferguson had spoken about the possibility of using Wayne Rooney and Louis Saha prior to this game in an attempt to increase the strike-pair's fitness following recent injuries, but neither even made it as far as the bench. How the United manager must have wished that he had followed through with his plan as his under-performing team trudged off at half-time.
The introduction of Wes Brown at the interval and Michael Carrick shortly afterwards underlined Ferguson's selection mistake, but it was too late by that stage. Coventry had already gained the momentum and they were too determined to allow the chance of an upset to slip away.
Andy Marshall, the Coventry goalkeeper, was a spectator who was only called into action when Nani and substitute Fraizer Campbell tried their luck from distance. When United finally broke into the visitors' penalty area on 65 minutes, Dong Fangzhuo's close-range shot was saved by Marshall before Elliott Ward blocked Carrick's follow-up.
A superb save by Marshall from Campbell's header on 70 minutes set in motion the move that led to Mifsud's second goal. The 26-year-old forward was released down the left flank and his pace took him clear of Gerard Pique.
After a one-two with Jay Tabb on the edge of the penalty area, Mifsud beat Kuszczak with a powerful right-foot effort from 12 yards. Two-nil up at the home of the champions, but Coventry deserved nothing less.
But for a rare piece of inaccuracy by Mifsud on 82 minutes, when he shot wide from only six yards following Kuszczak's save from Stephen Hughes, the Maltese striker would have celebrating an incredible hat-trick.(Courtesy: www.telegraph.co.uk)