Sunderland head into tomorrow night’s Capital One Cup semi-final second leg with Manchester United 2-1 up and 90 minutes away from a trip to Wembley. Sports Writer
SUNDERLAND have had two weeks to digest their first-leg win over Manchester United at the Stadium of Light, but in the 1963 League Cup there was a staggering 14-week gap between the two legs of their semi-final with Aston Villa due to the big freeze.
Alan Brown’s men had given themselves a mountain to climb after losing 3-1 in the first leg, and the pro-longed period until re-match seemingly took the fizz out of the tie with the sides playing out a goalless draw in the second leg.
There would be more heartbreak for Sunderland that season, who missed out on promotion to the First Division on goal difference.
Arsenal 1 Sunderland 2
FA Cup semi-final, 1973
ARSENAL were heavily expected to win this one. The Gunners were chasing their third consecutive trip to Wembley meaning the Black Cats went into the game at Hillsborough without any expectation or pressure on their shoulders – except from within.
That played into their hands and Bob Stokoe’s side went in 1-0 up at the break after Vic Halom had capitalised on a mix-up between Jeff Blockley and Bob Wilson to slot home from a wind-assisted ball forward.
Arsenal threw on an extra attacker in the hope of drawing level, but they left themselves exposed. Sunderland took advantage and hit their opponents on the counter to make it two-nil through Billy Hughes and despite Charlie George’s goal six minutes from time, Sunderland booked their place at Wembley, where they would go on to beat Leeds United to win the FA Cup.
Sunderland: Montgomery, Malone, Guthrie, Horswill, Pitt, Halom, Hughes, Kerr, Watson, Porterfield, Tuert.
Chelsea 2 Sunderland 5 (on aggregate)
League Cup semi-final, 1985
IF you’re someone that takes bad omens seriously, it might be worth skipping over this one. In 1985, Sunderland dispatched Chelsea to reach the League Cup final with a 5-2 semi-final win over two legs. Similarly, Gus Poyet’s men beat the Blues on their way to this season’s semi-finals thanks to Ki Sung-Yeung’s extra-time winner.
They went on to play Norwich in final and lost 1-0. Fast forward a few months and the Black Cats found themselves relegated to the old First Division. Comparisons Sunderland supporters might prefer to forget heading into tomorrow night’s second leg lying in the bottom three of the Premier League, but under Poyet the Black Cats are showing signs of being able to buck the trend.
Norwich 0 Sunderland 1
FA Cup semi-final, 1992
ANOTHER disappointing season that almost ended in fairy-tale success. The Black Cats spent the majority of the season lying in midtable of the old Second Division, but in the closing months of the season their cup form could not be translated into the league when they slid down the standings and eventually finished five points above the bottom three. John Byrne continued his run of scoring in every round of the FA Cup when he bagged the only goal of the game against the Canaries to secure Sunderland’s place at Wembley, but they were eventually beaten 2-0 by Liverpool.
Sunderland: Norman, Kay, Rogan, Ball, Hardyman, Rush, Bracewell, Davenport, Armstrong, Byrne, Atkinson.
Leicester 3 Sunderland 2 (on aggregate)
League Cup semi-final, 1999
THIS Worthington Cup semi-final saw Premier League Leicester City, managed by Martin O’Neill, take on Division One Sunderland, who sat top of the second tier.
Black Cats boss Peter Reid played down the gap between the sides ahead of the first-leg at the Stadium of Light, but a touch of Premier League quality proved the difference with Tony Cottee producing two fine goals.
Gavin McCann’s late free-kick gave Sunderland hope going into the second leg, but despite Niall Quinn’s header drawing the Wearsiders level on at Filbert Street, up popped Cottee to score with a deft flick and send O’Neill’s men into the final.
There was a happy ending for the Black Cats, though, who went on to win the Championship title by 18 points.
Sunderland: Sorensen, Makin, Gray, Johnston, Butler, Melville, McCann, Ball, Clark, Phillips, Quinn.
Sunderland 0 Millwall 1
FA Cup semi-final, 2004
THE battle of the Championship didn’t end in victory for the Black Cats. In their most recent semi-final appearance, Sunderland choked against Millwall and their defeat at the hands of Tim Cahill’s first-half winner had a knock-on effect on their hopes of returning to the Premier League.
It was an opportunity missed for more reasons than one, given the fact the winners would play Manchester United in the final and therefore qualify for Europe.
In the space of 90 minutes, Sunderland’s hopes of a day out at Wembley disappeared up in smoke and a couple of months later so did their hopes of another day out at the home of English football when they lost their two-legged play-off semi-final to Crystal Palace.
Sunderland: Poom, McCartney, Babb, Wright, Breen, Arca, Smith, Thirlwell, McAteer, Oster, Kyle.