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Match Report: Manchester United 2-1 Sunderland - Mannone The Hero!

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Sunderland were denied at the death but beat the Premier League champions on penalties.

Clive Mason

I am having a hard time describing that match, we've all gone through so many emotions tonight, from fear, nerves, delight, disappointment and finally utter elation but the one word that describes that performance from Sunderland the most is pride.

Often in the past we have disappointed in big games, that home FA Cup quarter-final against Everton being the prime example, but tonight we delivered. We wanted that more than the under fire Premier League champions, we fought for every ball, ran to the very end, never gave up and we got our reward, all while sticking to Gus Poyet's passing philosophy. We should all be proud of every single player in a Sunderland shirt tonight, no matter if they are your favourite or not, they delivered when it mattered and did what we want all Sunderland players to do in every game, they fought for the shirt, our shirt.

The game itself started off quite slowly, with both sides feeling each other out but Manchester United just about had the upper hand and were unlucky not to take the lead when Darren Fletcher got onto the end of Shinji Kagawa's cross only to see his shot come back off the post, with Vito Mannone reacting quickly to save Danny Welbeck's follow up. They did take the lead a few minutes later when Welbeck flicked on a corner and Jonny Evans, having lost John O'Shea, stole in at the far post to head home.

Sunderland could have taken the lead after 19 minutes in sensational style, when Sunderland passed the ball around United with ease, to the delight of the 9,000 strong army from Wearside and eventually Fabio Borini was sent clear and smashed a dipping drive from just outside the area but unfortunately the shot didn't dip enough and flew just over.

Sunderland controlled the second half and had plenty of set pieces but couldn't quite test David De Gea, with Marcos Alonso's driven shot from out wide flashing past the post our best effort of the half. Man Utd did have chances on the counter attack, with Javier Hernandez wasteful when sent clear late on but neither side could find the goal that would prevent Extra Time.

Sunderland continued to probe, with Jozy Altidore and Craig Gardner replacing Fabio Borini and Lee Cattermole, but still couldn't find a way to test De Gea in the United goal, with time ticking away Sunderland threw more and more players forward in an attempt to find that vital goal and Adam Johnson went closest but his shot was delected behind for a corner and Phil Bardsley drove a cross across the box but no player could get on the end of it.

With time almost up Sunderland looked to have snatched the tie at the death, when Bardsley was found on the edge of the box and his powerful drive was spilled by De Gea into the bottom corner, as we all went mental and thought we were headed to Wembley, the home side piled forward and somehow snatched a goal themselves. Adnan Januzaj, who was a constant menace to Sunderland, found room out wide and his cross into the box evaded everyone but Hernandez at the back post who hit his shot into the roof of the net.

That took the tie to penalties and aged us all at least 10 years. We aged a few more years immediately afterwards when Gardner and Steven Fletcher missed our first two penalties, with Danny Welbeck also missing but Darren Fletcher gave the home side a 1-0 lead with 3 penalties remaining each. Alonso steered home an expert penalty to get Sunderland on the board, then Mannone saved Januazj's weak effort before Ki gave Sunderland a 2-1 lead.

With Phil Jones then missing, Adam Johnson just had to score to send Sunderland to Wembley! Unfortunately De Gea made up for his earlier error by saving his spot kick, thankfully the agony wasn't prolonged as Mannone made himself the hero by saving Rafael's penalty and sealing Sunderland's first major cup final since 1992!!

A breathless end to an unbelievably tense cup tie, I don't think we could suffer many games or last 5 minutes like that one but we got there in the end and we will face Manchester City in the Capital One Cup Final in March.

Every single player ran their heart out and tonight showed why we love Sunderland so much. If we keep that fighting spirit and never say die attitude not only will we stay up but we will give City a massive run for their money in the final.

WE ARE GOING TO WEMBLEY.