SUNDERLAND are going to Wembley for their first major final since 1992 after a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory at Old Trafford in the Capital One Cup semi-final.
Goalkeeper Vito Mannone was Sunderland’s hero as the Italian goalkeeper saved two of Manchester United’s five spot-kicks, as Gus Poyet’s men triumphed 2-1 on penalties.
Earlier, former Sunderland loanee Jonny Evans had sent the game to extra-time when he brought Man United level on aggregate when he headed home from a corner.
United would have won on away goals at the end of the additional 30 minutes if Sunderland hadn’t scored, but with just a minute to go, Phil Bardsley’s shot was spilled horribly into his own net by David De Gea.
Sunderland’s ecstasy was short-lived though as in the final seconds of extra-time, Javier Hernandez sent it to penalties when he levelled.
But during an awful penalty shoot-out, Marcos Alonso and Ki Sung-Yeung netted for the Black Cats to send Sunderland through to Wembley to face Manchester City.
Gus Poyet made two changes from the side which drew against Southampton, with Jack Colback and Steven Fletcher straight swaps for Seb Larsson and Jozy Altidore.
Both Altidore and Larsson were included on the bench, as were new signings Oscar Ustari and Santiago Vergini after the Argentine pair’s international clearance came through in time.
Neither Wayne Rooney nor Robin van Persie were fit to feature for Manchester United, as David Moyes made five changes from the side which lost at Chelsea on Sunday.
Chris Smalling, Alex Buttner, Darren Fletcher, Shinji Kagawa and Javier Hernandez were all included in the starting XI.
Vito Mannone made an excellent save to deny Hernandez in the sixth minute after the Mexican met Adnan Januzaj’s inswinging free-kick at the back post.
Hernandez didn’t get a clean contact on his downward header, but it still bounced awkwardly in front of Mannone, who parried it away well.
John O’Shea had a half-chance from a set piece three minutes later when he met Ki Sung-Yueng’s free-kick from the left, but he sent his back post header from 12 yards well wide.
Fabio Borini went far closer in the 19th minute as the on-loan Liverpool man almost netted a scorcher.
Borini controlled Adam Johnson’s long-ball forward and then unleashed a rasping half-volley from 25 yards which just cleared David De Gea’s crossbar.
Sunderland had a massive escape in the 36th minute as they were spared by the woodwork.
Shinji Kagawa’s cross from the right was diverted onto the far post by Darren Fletcher, before Danny Welbeck saw his effort blocked on the rebound in an almighty goalmouth scramble.
Sunderland managed to put the ball behind, but from the resulting corner, the deadlock was broken.
Januzaj’s delivery from the right was helped on by Welbeck and Jonny Evans beat the offside trap at the far post to head beyond Mannone.
Wes Brown went close to an instant response in the 41st minute when he met Johnson’s corner from the right with a back post header that was blocked inside the six-yard box by Alex Buttner.
HALF-TIME Man United 1 Sunderland 0
Rafael was inches away from doubling United’s lead four minutes into the second half when he unleashed a left-footed chipped shot from 20 yards which just cleared the crossbar.
At the other end, Adam Johnson met Phil Bardsley’s pull-back from the edge of the area in the 53rd minute with a left-footed shot which was deflected just wide of the near post. Referee Lee Mason somehow failed to award a corner though.
Januzaj let fly from 25 yards two minutes later with a dipping shot which dropped just wide of the post.
Johnson went desperately close in the 75th minute when he chested down Borini’s cross from the left and let fly on the volley.
The ball was heading on target, but Buttner threw himself at it and deflected it just wide.
Four minutes later, Sunderland went even closer when Johnson dinked the ball down the left-hand channel and Fletcher let it run for Marcos Alonso.
The left-back unleashed a first-time half-volley across goal which skidded agonisingly wide of the far post.
United had a chance to seal their passage in stoppage time when John O’Shea brought down Hernandez right on the edge of the area.
Januzaj stepped up, but his free-kick was gathered well by Mannone, high to his left, as the game went into extra-time.
FULL-TIME Man United 1 Sunderland 0
Substitute Craig Gardner stepped up to a free-kick, 25 yards out, in the 95th minute and sent his right-footed effort just over the bar.
In the 101st minute, Hernandez was presented with a golden opportunity as the hosts broke from a Sunderland corner.
Januzaj fed Hernandez, the wrong side of Gardner, but after taking a touch, the striker curled his shot wide of the post from 20 yards.
HALF-TIME EXTRA-TIME Man United 1 Sunderland 0
Januzaj had a chance on the counter-attack in the 112th minute, but could only send his effort straight at Mannone from the edge of the area.
Sunderland had another near miss in the 117th minute when Bardsley flashed a cross across the face which somehow avoided a touch off anyone in a crowded six-yard box.
Two minutes later, Sunderland were level when Ki squared the ball across the edge of the area and Bardsley let fly with a right-footed which was spilled horribly by De Gea into the bottom corner.
But Sunderland’s ectasy was short lived.
In the dying embers of extra-time, Januzaj pulled the ball back from the left-hand side of the area and Hernandez lifted the ball into the roof of the net to send the game to penalties.
FULL-TIME EXTRA-TIME Man United 2 Sunderland 1.
The penalties were in front of the Sunderland fans, but the Black Cats got off to the worst possible start as Craig Gardner blasted his spot-kick over the top.
But ex--Sunderland loanee Danny Welbeck then followed suit as he skied his spot-kick too.
Steven Fletcher then missed too, as his soft effort was stopped by De Gea low to his right.
Namesake Darren Fletcher became the first player to score as he tucked his penalty away in the same corner.
Marcos Alonso was the first Sunderland player to net as he drilled it down the middle.
It remained 1-1, with Januzaj’s tame effort saved well by Mannone.
Ki Sung-Yueng then gave Sunderland the lead as he sent De Gea the wrong way.
Phil Jones then skied his spot-kick, leaving Johnson the task of sending Sunderland through to Wembley.
But his effort down the middle was beaten away by De Gea.
That still left Rafael needing to score, but his effort down the middle was saved by Mannone to send Sunderland through to Wembley.
SUNDERLAND WIN 2-1 ON PENALTIES
MANCHESTER UNITED: De Gea, Rafael, Smalling, Evans, Buttner (Evra 85), Januzaj, Carrick (Jones 95), Fletcher, Kagawa (Valencia 61), Welbeck, Hernandez. Subs not used: Lindegaard, Giggs, Young, Cleverley. Booked: Jones (113), Januzaj (116)
SUNDERLAND: Mannone, Bardsley, Brown, O’Shea, Alonso, Cattermole (Gardner 82), Colback, Ki, Johnson, Borini (Altidore 86), Fletcher. Subs not used: Larsson, Celustka, Altidore, Giaccherini, Vergini, Ustari. Booked: Borini (65), O’Shea (90), Gardner (109), Alonso (118)
*Don’t miss tomorrow’s Sunderland Echo for the biggest and best coverage of the semi-final drama