Hull City edged an eight-goal thriller at Wembley to make it through to their first-ever FA Cup Final at the expense of League One Sheffield United.
Trailing 2-1 at the break, four second-half strikes from Matty Fryatt, Tom Huddlestone, Stephen Quinn and David Meyler completed a stirring comeback.
Hull City 5-3 Sheffield United
FA Cup with Budweiser
Wembley Stadium connected by EE
13 April 2014
Nigel Clough’s Blades had impressed and shocked in equal measure during their run to the last four, a run which had accounted for Aston Villa and Fulham in the earlier rounds.
They were aiming to become the first side from the third tier to reach The Cup Final since the formation of the Football League in 1888.
And they appeared on course to complete their historic mission when Jose Baxter and Stefan Scougall each steered home low crosses to cancel out Yannick Sagbo’s first-half strike.
Bruce made a double change at the break, bringing on Fryatt and Sone Aluko for George Boyd and Maynor Figueroa, and his team reaped the reward, scoring three times in 18 minutes to effectively set up a showpiece clash with Arsenal next month.
Jamie Murphy pulled a goal back for United in the final minute, but Meyler had the final say by completing the scoring in added time.
The opening quarter of this Semi-Final, the 900th match to be played at Wembley Stadium, sailed by without incident – save for Huddlestone’s speculative effort from the halfway line that Mark Howard gathered comfortably. However, the remaining 70 minutes more than made up for a lacklustre start.
Both sets of supporters were in terrific voice in the April sunshine, and there was arguably more going on in the stands than on the pitch early on – until Baxter lit the touch paper for a breathless hour of action.
The Blades won a throw-in deep in the Hull half, the bearded John Brayford delivered a low centre and former Everton forward Baxter, who helped Oldham knock out Liverpool in last season’s Fourth Round, stole in at the near post ahead of James Chester to direct the ball home – and send the hoards of red-and-white-shirted fans wild at the far end of the ground.
United grew in confidence and a passage of passing midway through the first half had their fans ‘Ole-ing’.
However, unable to capitalise on their dominance, the Bramall Lane outfit were undone by a magnificent piece of play from Jake Livermore. With the interval approaching, the Tottenham loanee dissected the United defence with a wonderful through ball to the far post which Sagbo plundered into the roof of the net for the equaliser.
City’s joy was very short-lived, though, as United responded immediately. Murphy did brilliantly to scamper down the left flank, past two Hull defenders, and sent a ball into the box which Scougall lashed home from six yards out to give the Blades a deserved half-time advantage.
But the half-time changes paid dividends for Hull, who were on top straight from the restart.
Fryatt levelled four minutes into the second half, turning home from close range after Chester’s miscued shot fell invitingly for him just a few yards out.
The substitute thought he had a quick-fire second until he turned round to see the assistant’s flag raised for offside.
The third goal did come just moments later. Huddlestone played a neat one-two with Meyler, skipped into the box and placed a left-foot curler beyond Howard’s desperate dive.
And another substitute, Quinn, seemingly put the game beyond United when he nodded home Livermore’s cross just after the hour mark, but the impressive Murphy gave his side the faintest of hopes when he smashed home in the final minute.
The Blades were in full voice once more, urging their team to pull off a remarkable draw, but Hull broke away and Meyler slotted home in added time to seal victory.
Hull City (4-4-1-1): 22 Steve Harper; 2 Liam Rosenior, 5 James Chester, 6 Curtis Davis (C), 3 Maynor Figueroa; 27 Ahmed Elmohamady, 7 David Meyler, 14 Jake Livermore, 17 George Boyd; 8 Tom Huddlestone; 20 Yannick Sagbo.
Substitutes: 12 Matty Fryatt (for Boyd, 45), 24 Sone Aluko (for Figueroa), 29 Stephen Quinn (on for Sagbo 64).
Substitutes not used: 16 Eldin Jakupovic, 4 Alex Bruce, 10 Robert Koren, 23 Abdoulaye Faye.
Bookings: Meyler 14
Goals: Sagbo 42, Fryatt 49, Huddlestone 54, Quinn 67, Meyler 90
Manager: Steve Bruce
Sheffield United (4-1-4-1): 1 Mark Howard; 4 John Brayford, 15 Neill Collins, 5 Harry Maguire, 3 Bob Harris; 8 Michael Doyle (C); 7 Ryan Flynn, 21 Stefan Scougall, 17 Conor Coady, 23 Jamie Murphy; 11 Jose Baxter.
Substitutes: 9 Chris Porter (for Baxter, 83), 22 Ben Davies (for Scougall, 83), 6 Matt Hill (for Harris, 90)
Substitutes not used: 25 George Long, 14 Stephen McGinn, 28 Kieron Freeman, 32 Terry Kennedy.
Goals: Baxter 19, Scougall 43, Murphy 90
Manager: Nigel Clough
Referee: Andre Marriner