Tommy Doyle’s dramatic late winner completed a stirring Sheffield United comeback as the Blades battled past Blackburn Rovers in an Emirates FA Cup thriller at Bramall Lane.
Sam Szmodics’ second-half strike had looked to haul Rovers into the semi-finals but Oli McBurnie’s leveller and Doyle’s stunning strike kept the Championship high-flyers’ hopes of a first Emirates FA Cup title for almost exactly a century alive.
Ben Brereton Diaz’s first-half penalty had opened the scoring before Sam Gallagher’s unfortunate own goal restored parity at the break.
- Sheffield United v Blackburn Rovers
- Sunday 19 March
And with extra-time looming in South Yorkshire, Manchester City loanee Doyle unleashed an unstoppable rising strike from the edge of the box to trigger Bramall Lane chaos and propel Sheffield United to Wembley.
The game kicked off at a frantic pace as Blackburn, roared on by their raucous 6,000-strong travelling contingent, asked continual questions of Paul Heckingbottom’s defence.
And they soon grabbed the breakthrough on 21 minutes after a VAR-influenced penalty was awarded by referee Tim Robinson.
Jack Robinson handled Gallagher’s shot from close-range and after a trip to the TV monitor, the referee pointed to the spot.
Brereton Diaz made no mistake in front of the boisterous Blades fans behind the goal as his emphatic strike fired Rovers into the lead.
But the helter-skelter encounter continued when the hosts levelled just seven minutes later.
Max Lowe struck a fierce shot from distance that was diverted past visitors’ goalkeeper Aynsley Pears after a wicked deflection off Gallagher.
Both sides came flying out of the blocks once again in the second half as a brilliant double save from Foderingham thwarted both Szmodics and Brereton Diaz.
And at the other end, Manchester City loanee James McAtee – whose older brother John is set to feature for Grimsby Town in their quarter-final at Brighton & Hove Albion later in the day – was denied by a similarly smart stop by Pears when clean through on goal.
Jon Dahl Tomasson’s visitors regained the lead just moments later when Szmodics fired home past Foderingham.
The Rovers midfielder was played in by a perfectly-weighted pass from Gallagher and coolly slotted low into the far corner to trigger delirium in the away end.
The visitors almost doubled their lead on 70 minutes later when Ryan Hedges had Foderingham beaten and rifled against a Bramall Lane post.
But it was the Blades who equalised with just 10 minutes remaining when McBurnie turned smartly in the box and steered the ball past Pears from the tightest of angles.
Heckingbottom’s side, spearheaded by the brilliant Iliman Ndiaye, then had the momentum and continued to press for a winner as extra-time beckoned.
And they found it in stunning fashion with just moments remaining as dynamic Doyle rifled into the top corner to tee up a hotly-anticipated trip to the capital next month.