It all seemed to heading towards a quarter final cup exit. We played okay, but didn't look like we had quite enough left in the locker to keep ourselves in the competition. Then up popped Borini to rescue us, followed by a late Ki effort in extra time. Was this when we began to dream?
'twas the week before Christmas, and I was freezing my bollocks off.
An adequate first half showing had given way to an abject second. Chelsea eased into the lead via a bundled Frank Lampard effort (or was it a Lee Cattermole own goal? Who cares?) and Sunderland's Capital One Cup glory hopes look to be ebbing away for another year at least. Jose Mourinho's side have the ball and are happy to play out time.
But then, a mystifying sight. They say the modern day chav is impervious to cold weather conditions, and so it proves, as a scrawny, topless, tracky-bottomed laden moron enters the field of play, much to the bemusement of all in the ground. Some...interesting gestures follow, before the inebriated young chap finds himself in an ever tightening noose of stewards and security guards.
What followed was both predictable and hilarious. Avoiding the outstretched arm of the Stadium of Light security staff, he jinks one way then the next, stewards stumble and fall in his wake, before the crescendo: a knee-slide, deep into the goalmouth of the South Stand, before disappearing beneath a swarm of orange and yellow coats.
An idiot? Yes. A catalyst? You bet. Somehow, this barmy little sod invigorated Sunderland, lifting the spirits of the crowd and team alike. Poyet's men, who looked beaten a few minutes earlier, suddenly stormed back into it - cue a late equaliser from Fabio Borini. Seconds later, he wasted a chance to win it - a golden, golden chance - and into extra-time we went.
I cursed. For God's sake, Fabio. It's freezing. We all have work tomorrow. People need an early night before the end of the week and the Christmas Party that awaits us. We're never going to win the bloody cup anyway. Either score twice or miss twice, don't push us into thirty minutes more of the cold, eh? Don't just delay the inevitable defeat, eh?
How wrong I was.
Nothing really significant occurred outside of the football on this evening. But I think, aside from the result, a lot of things went on on the pitch.
I'd not really been a big fan of Fabio Borini up to this point. I'd even had a conversation on the podcast with Luke Ball regarding the prospect of sending him back to Liverpool in the January window. It just wasn't really working for him. It might have been better for him and his prospects if he managed to get a loan elsewhere in preparation for the World Cup. He then began his fantastic run of form that has seen him become one of our best assets in the last three months.
Borini's last minute equaliser against Chelsea not only woke me up on a freezing cold night at RE Stadium of Light, it seemed to spark his Sunderland career into life. His cute finish gave us the platform to build in extra time and go on to claim a dramatic victory. Shows what I know, send him back indeed...
The other player that night who really cemented his place in Sunderland hearts was Ki Sung-Yeung. Ki had already been pretty decent since his arrival on loan from Swansea. A player with bags of quality in the middle of the park. If only he could add goals to his game?
Well Ki wound up being the hero in extra time with a composed late winner. Earlier in the game he nearly provided some beautiful historical symmetry, going close in recreating Gordon Armstrong's late header against Chelsea back in 1992.
He wasn't to be denied moments later though. In his celebrations you could see just how much he was enjoying his spell at Sunderland. Shirt off, mobbed by team mates, the entire ground chanting his name. After the game KI commented on how much the goal meant to him. I think a real bond was formed that night.
After this game the side seemed to really come together, and we went on a pretty decent run. Just goes to show that a cup run can instil confidence and improve league form as well. I think on this night that was personified by certain individual players, too.