Everton will play Chelsea in the 2009 FA Cup final after beating Manchester United on penalties in their semi final, following a goalless 120 minutes at Wembley.
Phil Jagielka slammed home the spot-kick, which sealed the win for The Toffees, after escaping giving away a penalty in the second half of regular time for a trip on Danny Welbeck.
Former United keeper Tim Howard saved two spot-kicks – from Dimitar Berbatov and Rio Ferdinand – to go some way towards thwarting his old side, as Leighton Baines, another ex-United star in Phil Neville and James Vaughan all succeeded with their efforts following Tim Cahill’s miss from The Toffees’ first penalty.
Nemanja Vidic and Anderson were successful with their attempts, but with the two previous misses Jagielka’s accuracy secured a return for May 30 and ended United's quintuple quest in the process.
Eyebrows were raised by Sir Alex Ferguson’s team selection when the starting line-ups were released shortly before kick-off, with the Da Silva twins – Fabio and Rafael – filling the full-back berths and Federico Macheda leading the attack in the absence of Wayne Rooney. Added to that the presence of Welbeck, Darron Gibson and Ben Foster and United’s XI had a decidedly youthful – and in turn relatively inexperienced – look to it with no fewer than eight changes from the side that beat Porto in midweek.
It clearly gave Everton an added incentive to get at their opponents, and they did for the early moments of the game before the match tailed off in the first half without any real clear-cut chances.
There were sniffs, but nothing that hinted at a goal. Phil Neville hammered a poor effort high and wide after getting inside Fabio and Carlos Tevez skewed a shot wide at the other end as neither keeper was troubled. That was until the 21st minute, but United’s keeper Foster brought hassle to his own door rather than any skill opening the game up. Taking too long over a clearance, former United striker Louis Saha slid in and almost caught him out, but a grateful Foster smothered the ball.
The closest either side actually came to scoring was midway through the half, when Joleon Lescott poked a Rafael cross an inch wide of his own post, and the young Brazilian was then booked moments later for holding Baines as Everton countered. Steven Pienaar wasted the set-piece opportunity though as United’s defense – marshaled by Ferdinand and Vidic at the heart – remained untested to any serious degree.
There was a weak penalty appeal towards the interval as Rafael muscled Pienaar off the ball, and Welbeck then pulled an effort wide after a neat build-up involving Macheda and Tevez as the sides went in level, and goalless, at the break.
The second half provided much more in the way of entertainment and, importantly, goalscoring chances.
The first real save of the match was made by Foster who had to go low to his right to parry an awkwardly dipping Cahill shot, while Park Ji-sung skipped inside Baines and shot marginally wide as the game became more stretched.
From there, the chances started to flow and Darron Gibson’s shot was foiled by Howard before United had what appeared to be a decent penalty appeal turned away by referee Mike Riley. Jagielka clipped Welbeck ever so faintly, but it was enough to send the youngster sprawling to the turf. No joy for United though.
Anderson and Welbeck both sent efforts within a whisker of the crossbar as full time approached, and the game reached a frantic pace with a peppering of opportunities that was in stark contrast to the earlier proceedings. Despite that, the 90 minutes failed to produce a goal and extra time was needed.
The Toffees had the first chance when Cahill forced Foster to save with his feet, but with Berbatov having been introduced for the extra 30 minutes United looked just as dangerous.
Tevez curled an effort straight into Howard’s arms and Vaughan pulled a shot wide from a Baines cross as both teams sought the killer blow that would inevitably knock the wind out of one another’s sails.
Cahill was booked for his protestations when a foul was given against him after he turned Vidic, seemingly just beating the Serbian to the ball. Everton’s two-on-one attack was thwarted by Riley though, who deemed Cahill to have unfairly levered his opponent off the ball.
There was late drama when Foster’s clearance was charged down by Vaughan, but a corner was all that came of a frenzied few seconds that followed as the resulting corner yielded nothing and the game went to penalties.
And so, in front of the United fans, Everton succeeded as David Moyes’ side successfully negotiated the shootout, despite Cahill missing their first as he blazed over the bar.
A terrible excuse for a penalty from Berbatov was stopped with his feet by Howard, before Baines hoisted his into the roof of the net.
Ferdinand stepped up next for United and saw his effort saved, before Phil Neville sent Foster the wrong way with a calmly slotted attempt.
Vidic's penalty crept in off the post and Vaughan was successful, as was Anderson, but Jagielka made it 4-2 to book a final date with Guus Hiddink's side.
Moving to Ireland
After living in Ireland for almost one year, this is what I’ve learned