CAN Sunderland go all the way? Can they defy the odds yet again and triumph over strong favourites Manchester City at Wembley?
With such a massive game ahead, let’s look back at the Black Cats’ journey to the Capital One Cup Final.
1. Sunderland 4-2 MK Dons – Round Two
This was Paolo Di Canio’s only cup game with the Black Cats.
With Patrick Bamford and Izale McLeod scoring to put the Dons 2-0 up, the first 75 minutes of this game were torturous to watch.
It was only thanks to Connor Wickham scoring two of Sunderland’s four goals in the last 12 minutes of the game that they progressed to round three.
Jozy Altidore and Adam Johnson also scored, but the Dons were unlucky not to get extra time as they worked very hard.
Still, Sunderland got through and that’s what matters.
2. Sunderland 2-0 Peterborough – Round Three
This win over Darren Ferguson’s side was by far Sunderland’s most professional performance of the tournament and they really played like a Premier League team.
Emanuele Giaccherini and Valentin Roberge sealed our progress into round four and this game gave us a lovely break from the Premier League, something which was proving to be a nightmare.
The players were also enjoying themselves on the pitch in their first game post Paolo Di Canio.
3. Sunderland 2-1 Southampton – Round Four
Not many fancied Sunderland’s chances of making it passed Mauricio Pochettino’s Southampton to get to round five.
By this point, the Black Cats didn’t have a Premier League clean sheet to their name and Southampton push very hard in the attack. After seeing the teams on the night, however, things didn’t look so bad and you could say that Sunderland had a fighting chance.
After a first half that was as exciting as watching paint dry, Sunderland really upped their game in the second.
They played the Saints at their own game, pressing high up the pitch. Goals from Phil Bardsley and Sebastian Larsson sealed the victory despite Maya Yoshida’s late header.
4. Sunderland 2-1 Chelsea – Quarter-final
Out of all the home games, this was the best side Sunderland faced in the competition.
The first half was dull, but we kept Jose Mourinho’s team comfortably at bay.
In the second half, Frank Lampard scored to put Chelsea 1-0 up, but the visitors created and wasted a whole host of chances to put the game to bed and the Geordie slayer, Fabio Borini, equalised with two minutes to go.
In extra-time, Sunderland dominated and deservedly got the winner through on-loan Swansea midfielder Ki-Sung Yueng with penalties looming dangerously close.
Chelsea had fielded a strong squad including Lampard, Gary Cahill and Samuel Eto’o. Eden Hazard had also come on, making this win all the more special.
5. Sunderland 2-1 Manchester United – Semi-final, First-Leg
By this point, the fans were starting to dream of the final at Wembley.
We had the advantage of playing most of our games at home, but if Sunderland were to progress, then it was crucial to win the first-leg in front of the home fans.
The Black Cats rode their luck at times in this game, especially with Ryan Giggs hitting the crossbar after being allowed to run half the pitch and an own goal giving us a half-time lead.
Sunderland conceded shortly into the second half when Nemanja Vidic headed home, but Adam Johnson won a penalty carelessly given away by Tom Cleverley and Borini found the back of the net.
The final whistle had us all day dreaming about what might be.
6. Manchester United 2-1 Sunderland – Semi-final, Second-Leg
Carrying a 2-1 lead from the first-leg, a draw would have obviously been enough to see us through to the final.
Sunderland kept David Moyes’s side at bay easily before former Mackem Jonny Evans headed in from a couple of yards, sending the game to extra time.
Sunderland came back into the match and after Marcus Alonso shot narrowly wide, Adnan Januzaj and Javier Hernandez missed good chances to kill the tie off. Phil Bardsley scored our first shot on target, with United’s David De Gea helping the ball over the line.
Joy turned to heartache less than a minute later when Hernandez made it 2-1. It would be decided by a penalty shootout and Sunderland secured a famous victory.
Now on to the Final!
•This article was written by FTBpro’s Michael Bowers
www.FTBpro.com is the largest fan-generated football media brand with millions of users around the world, featuring analysis and insights from the people with the passion to start the conversation – the fans.