We deserved to lose. Manchester United started the game with a very fast pace and immediately put Sunderland on the back foot. They soaked up a lot of pressure in the first 15 minutes and had a couple of chances themselves but it was United who looked the more likely to score.
As the game continued, United had the majority of the possession but had little attacking penetration until a set piece provided the breakthrough. Jonny Evans made the right run at the right time to nod home a sliced Danny Welbeck effort to put United level in the tie and they held on until half time.
Sunderland were then the team who were putting the pressure on going forward and United inexplicably sat back. With the game tied on aggregate, neither side could find the winning goal and extra time was needed.
The best chance of the first half fell to Chicharito but he couldn’t hit the target. Only 15 minutes then stood between United and a City showdown at Wembley – then it all exploded.
David de Gea spilled a Phil Bardsley shot to give Sunderland the goal they needed to go through with just two minutes remaining. We looked down and out but we fired ourselves up straight away and Januzaj’s square ball was lashed home by Hernandez. Pandemonium.
Then, it was penalties. Anything can happen in penalties and it did – we won’t be going to Wembley.
Gardner and Welbeck miss. 0-0.
Fletcher miss and Darren Fletcher scores. 1-0.
Alonso scores and Januzaj misses. 1-1.
Ki scores and Jones misses. 2-1.
Johnson misses and Rafael misses. 2-1.
United still struggling to find consistency. In the first half, United had the majority of possession and controlled the tempo of the game. We were the team who put all the pressure on going forward and got the first goal.
However, the first half was Jekyll and the second was Hyde.
Instead of playing the same type of football, United sat back and invited Sunderland forward. As a team in confidence, they were all too happy to oblige and it made for a nervous 45 minutes as Sunderland looked the more likely to score.
United were then taken to extra time and penalties where we lost after missing four spot kicks. That’s inexcusable.
Moyes is happy to play narrow. Tonight was the first time that David Moyes set up his United side without a recognised traditional winger.
With Shinji Kagawa and Adnan Januzaj on the wings with Danny Welbeck in the middle, our front three was dynamic and fluid.
It was a marked change from how United have played this season because there wasn’t a constant desperation to fire the ball wide for a cross. Instead, there was a little bit more thought in the passes and it is good to see that Moyes isn’t a one trick tactical pony.
The stage is set for a new United, and we need it. The Telegraph have reported that United have had a £37 million bid for Juan Mata accepted by Chelsea and that he will have a medical tomorrow.
As far as January signings go, Mata’s arrival would go down as one of the greatest ever in the Premier League because of the season changing impact it could have.
Mata’s arrival could spell the beginning of a new era at United, an era which is built on inverted wingers and playmakers rather than wingers and wide play. That is a tantalising and exciting prospect and United need a lift right now.