Everton 1 Sunderland 1: March 17, 2012
Cup fever took hold of Wearside as Sunderland secured an FA Cup quarter-final replay in a tense tie at Everton.
Simon Mignolet’s stunning double save at the end of an enthralling tie ensured a Stadium of Light replay for Martin O’Neill’s men.
Sunderland matched the Toffeemen stride for stride throughout the 90 minutes, inspired by the backing of close to 6,000 fans at a sold-out Goodison Park.
They set the tone early when they resisted Everton pressure and fought back to grab a 12th-minute lead.
Phil Bardsley, who was playing through injuries, made the breakthrough with his first goal of the season – and what a goal it was – taking advantage of a short free-kick on the right wing to move the ball inside and drive a low right-foot shot across Tim Howard from 25 yards out and into the bottom corner of the net.
Everton equalised in the 23rd minute through Tim Cahill, with the Aussie notching his eighth goal against the Wearsiders when Leighton Baines’ cross from the left was glanced on by Nikica Jelavic and Cahill did well to steer a header beyond Mignolet at the near post.
After that, what followed was a classic cup-tie, with both sides defending superbly but always looking to be positive in attack.
Of the two teams, Everton will feel that they should have won – Royston Drenthe hit the crossbar with a thunderous free-kick and then, three minutes from time, Mignolet produced an implausible save to fingertip away a John Heitinga header and then threw himself in front of Jelavic’s follow-up.
Mignolet said of his saves: “The cross came over and Heitinga’s header was going just inside the post, but, luckily, I got a hand on it.
“Unfortunately, it dropped for Jelavic as well and all I could think of was getting up as quickly as I could. Luckily for me, he hit it into the side of my body.
“I was pleased with that.
“All you can do is make yourself as big as possible. But if we don’t get through, no-one will mention it again.”
Mignolet hailed the fighting spirit Sunderland showed after Everton cancelled out Bardsley’s opener.
“Everyone fought really hard, worked their socks off and getting a draw at Everton is a good result because it’s always such a tough place to go,” added the Belgian.
“No-one can be disappointed with how we played – we are still in it.”
Sadly, Sunderland were overrun throughout a miserable replay and succumbed 2-0, David Vaughan doubling the lead with an own goal, with Everton deserved winners.
Everton: Howard, Neville, Baines, Distin, Heitinga, Coleman (Gueye), Osman, Fellaini, Jelavic, Cahill, Drenthe (Stracqualursi)
Sunderland: Mignolet, Bardsley, Bridge, Turner, O’Shea, Colback, Larsson, Gardner, Bendtner, Campbell (Vaughan), McClean