DESPITE becoming the first Sunderland player to score a goal in a cup final since Ian Porterfield's winner in the 1973 FA Cup final, Italian Fabio Borini could not hide his frustration after losing out at Wembley yesterday.
When Borini stroked in a lovely opening goal inside the first ten minutes after brushing off the attentions of Vincent Kompany, the goal sparked wild scenes of celebration both on the pitch and in the stands of those wearing red and white.
For the remainder of the first half Sunderland competed and even went close to adding to their lead, raising hopes of an unlikely cup triumph against the well fancied and mega-rich Manchester City.
But then Manchester City emerged for the second half with greater intent and turned the game on its head with two excellent goals in two minutes from Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri.
Sunderland still refused to give up, though, and could have grabbed an equaliser before Toure broke at speed in stoppage-time and laid on the third for Jesus Navas, which left Sunderland wondering what might have been.
Borini said: “The feeling is that we’re proud of what we’re done. We’re disappointed with the result, but not with the performance. We know we’ve been here and played a great game.
“We know that Manchester City had to win that game - we didn’t give them anything. They showed us the quality they have with two incredible goals, goals we couldn’t do very much about, but they never found it easy.
“We kept going. That’s why we conceded the third goal. I think we put on a great demonstration that we cared, that we wanted to get an equaliser and to go on and win the game, but we conceded the third goal and that’s what happens in football. You get a bit unbalanced when you’re pushing forward like that and trying to get back on track.”
He added: “We are all so proud of the fans today too. They were cheering us from the first warm-up. Our end was full already when we came out of the tunnel and the Manchester City end was empty. You can only feel proud at moments like that, very proud. I hope they feel proud of us, too.”
Borini, playing through the middle ahead of Jozy Altidore and Steven Fletcher, took his goal confidently and followed on from his goals in the quarter final with Chelsea and in the semi-final against Manchester United.
The 22-year-old said: “It was a great feeling, partly because nobody expected it. It was a party before the game, the fans were cheering us with incredible noise during the warm-up, and the Manchester City end was empty. It was a great feeling for us. The fans were always there, for the whole of the 90 minutes.”
Sunderland now travel to Hull City in the FA Cup quarter-final next Sunday and then have a crucial Premier League relegation encounter with Crystal Palace to focus on.
Borini said: “The cups have been really important for us and really positive, this cup and the FA Cup. We’ve got another chance on Sunday to win another game and to come back here to Wembley. Maybe the second time will feel a bit more like home.
“It's better for us that we have another game quickly. If you’re back on the pitch very quickly then it’s helpful. It’s not as though we should be disappointed, not with the way we’ve played. We should be proud of what we’ve done until now. That’s the big positive thing we need to take with us.”