Hull were 2-1 behind to the League One outfit at the break, but a dressing down from the skipper invigorated the Humberside club, who scored four times after the restart to edge an FA Cup Semi-Final goal fest and book a first-ever appearance in The Final, where they will face Arsenal on Saturday 17 May.
“We made a couple of tactical changes but the rollicking was down to the captain”
Steve Bruce Hull manager
Bruce explained: “I didn’t say much [at half-time]. The captain did it all. It’s a long time since I’ve been in a dressing room when the captain takes over.
“It used to happen a lot in my day. I just had a cup of tea and let them get on with it. We made a couple of tactical changes but the rollicking was down to the captain – which is rare the way football is today.
“He was a proper captain.”
Bruce made two changes at half-time, bringing on Sone Aluko and Matty Fryatt for George Boyd and Maynor Figueroa – and Fryatt levelled just four minutes after the restart.
Tom Huddlestone and Stephen Quinn, another substitute, made it 4-2 before Jamie Murphy gave the Blades hope in the last minute – only for David Meyler to race clear in added time and seal a thrilling win.
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Bruce said: “I have to take responsibility for the first half. We’d been playing with two strikers all year. We’re better equipped at playing two strikers than playing off the front, so we had to change.
"We were awful first half. We made more mistakes in the first half an hour than we have done in the last six months.
“I have to say a special ‘well done’ to Sheffield United, a League One team who were terrific, better than us in the first half. All credit to them. Today was a proper FA Cup tie which you don’t see very often.”
Now the former Manchester United captain can look forward to what will be Hull City’s maiden appearance in an FA Cup Final, an occasion he is relishing.
He added: “For Hull City to be playing Arsenal in an FA Cup Final – if someone had have said that 10 years ago people would have been scratching their head saying ‘it’s not possible’ so it just shows you what can be done.
Nigel Clough and Steve Bruce shake hands at full-time
"I’ve been 15 years in football management and never been anywhere near The Final. We’ll enjoy the occasion and we’ll gain from today’s experience.
“All the pressure will be on Arsenal because they haven’t won anything for [nine] years. They’re a big club, with a big history and a top-class manager. We’re up against it but we’ll do our best.”
Sheffield United boss Nigel Clough admitted he was disappointed with the Blades’ second-half collapse but was full of praise for his side’s endeavours – both in outplaying Hull in the first 45 minutes and for their shock run to the last four, during which they knocked out Aston Villa and Fulham.
“I’m certainly proud of them. That feeling will grow in the weeks ahead when I look back at what we have achieved in The FA Cup”
Nigel Clough Sheffield United manager
He said: “I’m certainly proud of them. That feeling will grow in the weeks ahead when I look back at what we have achieved in The FA Cup and so very nearly today as well.
“We were close to making history in becoming the first third-tier side to get to an FA Cup Final and at half-time I thought we were well worthy of our lead.
“Their second goal was the killer blow for us. It got them totally going. They were rejuvenated and they scored another one pretty quickly.
“We’re a little bit disappointed with the goals we conceded. It’s unlike us, but we can’t ask any more of the players than what they did today. You have to remember they are two leagues above us and at times today we matched them.”