We're The Famous Sheffield United... The Blades Pip Blackburn In FA Cup Thriller

Goals, atmosphere, VAR controversy, late drama. This one had it all
13:58, 19 Mar 2023

The FA Cup has still got it. It has been usurped by the global glamour of the Champions League and the targeted-branding perfection of the Premier League. And yet the famous old trophy is still capable of producing 90 minutes of Roy Of The Rovers drama. Such was the case here, when Sheffield United edged out Blackburn Rovers 3-2 to reach the FA Cup semi final.

This tie had a crackling pace about it from the word go. This competition’s “magic”, or lack thereof, is debated endlessly but the first half of this one had the feel of a true cup tie. James McAfee outfoxed the offside flag to draw a good save from Aynsley Pears in the early going. The Rovers stopper had to react again when Tommy Doyle tried his luck from distance.


A gilt-edged chance arrived at the boots of Sam Gallagher when the striker sent a sitter into defender Jack Robinson. Initially it looked a canny block, a view shared by the officials. But VAR reared its ugly head to award an incredibly harsh handball. Chile’s own Ben Brereton Diaz made no mistake from the spot.

The Lancashire side couldn’t stay in front for long though. A corner was cleared only as far as Max Lowe, whose wayward strike from outside the box struck Gallagher and improbably flew in. It was something of a freak, but you couldn’t argue the Blades didn’t deserve to be on terms.

The second half saw George Baldock clatter one into the side netting from a tight angle. Blackburn roared back with goalscorer Brereton Diaz forcing a fine close-range stop from Wes Foderingham. At the other end, McAtee went through one on one only to be denied by Pears.

The parity was finally broken when Blackburn capitalised on a United mix-up in midfield. The resulting turnover ended with a slick through-ball to Sammie Szmodics. The 27-year-old was the calmest man in the stadium as he slotted a cool finish into the far corner.

Rovers almost put the tie beyond the Blades with 20 minutes remaining. Ryan Hedges got the better of Lowe in the right channel. The right winger made enough room for a measured shot, which beat Foderingham before hitting the post. Brereton Diaz teed Gallagher up for a six-yard box finish moments later, but the striker could not get a toe to the errant ball.

Just when it looked like the former Premier League champions would add to their lead, Oli McBurnie snuffed it out. The striker tried to take it on his right, but was effectively blocked off. Undeterred, an elegant shift to his left and a tucked finish gave the Blades hope of Wembley.

A game as riveting as this one deserved a conclusion to match. Step up Tommy Doyle, who fired in one of the goals of the tournament with 92 minutes on the clock. An outside-the-box rocket arrowed into the top scorer, with Pears’ left hand not enough to keep it out. The roof nearly came off Bramall Lane as the Blades eyed their 15th FA Cup semi-final.

That is how it finished, though it says a lot that for the final couple of minutes of added time, nobody relaxed or accepted their fate. Either of these sides would have been a worthy Wembley semi finalist. Woe betide the team that gets Blackburn in the final four, no matter their Premier League pedigree.

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