Last night Sunderland was locked in an epic battle with Manchester United in the League Cup semifinal 2nd leg at Old Trafford. Sunderland came in with a 2-1 aggregate score. Ki and Sunderland pulled off the extraordinary… Jones equalized on a Welbeck miss hit shot, but the odd tournament away goals rules meant that if it wasn’t settled in extra time, Manchester United would take the trip to Wembley for the final. A tired but unflappable Sunderland crew did an extraordinary job of holding down waves of attacks throughout the match, then pressed the hosts gallantly for a heroic stretch in the 2nd half, but no goal to show for all the hard work. With a minute of extra time remaining, Ki with the ball at the edge of the box, worked his way around and passed the ball to Bardsley, his powered shot went right to DeGea. Then some bit of magic was on the ball, it took a wicked spin off DeGea’s hands, and spun around into the corner of the post -and bounced on in! Celebrations on the visitor support side rocked Old Trafford, but Chicharito instantly turned the celebration to red devil counter celebrations as he tapped in a cross with 10 seconds remaining!
With both sides scoring, those weird League Cup rules meant PKs would have the final say. Not your ordinary nerve wracking affair, you could sense so much on the line for both teams based on recent events that have rocked both clubs in this tumultuous season. Dramatic multiple missed PKs, blocked saves and nails bitten off both hands later, Ki knocked in what eventually turned out to be the game winning PK, despite Gardner missing his chance to put the game away -Rafael Da Silva’s turn was saved by Mannone. Mannone was simply magnificent -he was one of several heroes of the match. It takes a village they say- well rather it takes a whole team in Sunderland’s case. The Wearsiders now goes to Wembley in early March – Manchester City awaits. What a game. More on this later — I’m on the run as usual but here’s a youtube of Ki’s PK – nice job sending DeGea guessing the other way.
UPDATE: I did remember when watching the game, the folks calling the game for BeInSport called Ki “a fulcrum for the Sunderland attack.” He started running out of gas in the 2nd half (I thought Poyet would pull him) but he stayed in and played deeper. A little quieter for a stretch, Ki still was reliable (save for the very first pass to start the 2nd half) in his distributions, kept the ball alive for Sunderland, and if he is tagged as the cool and calm midfield playmaker – he lived up to that. Got to go, more to come.