Rowell Report: Wembley-bound Sunderland are worthy cup finalists

Ex-Sunderland footballer Gary Rowell
Ex-Sunderland footballer Gary Rowell
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NOBODY can deny that Sunderland deserved to book their place at Wembley after last week’s game at Old Trafford.

It was dramatic and nail-biting but Sunderland got there in the end, although typically they did it the hard way.

When Phil Bardsley scored with just seconds left, that should have been it, but Sunderland switched off and lost concentration, which set up a penalty shoot-out that turned out to have a whole story of its own.

Both teams tried their best to hand the initiative to each other as penalty after penalty was missed and the outstanding Vito Mannone proved to be the hero with his final save from Rafael.

How many of our fans would have expected us to go through, if you told them we’d miss three of our five spot kicks?

Not many I guess.

But that’s exactly what happened as United capitulated and failed with an incredible four of their five.

Sunderland go to Wembley on merit.

They have had some favourable home draws along the way but have knocked out Southampton, Chelsea and Manchester United over two legs and when they walk out at Wembley in a month’s time, they will have earned the right to be there.

The scenes at the end will be remembered through the years, decades even, as the players and fans celebrated together at Old Trafford.

The 9,000 fans were immense, the noise levels went through the roof as the fans showed their passion, loyalty and humour on a historic night.

As an experience, it was exhilarating and very emotional and it was great to see Sunderland Football Club shown in such a positive light to a national audience on one of football’s biggest stages.