Tommy Doyle struck a stoppage-time winner to send Sheffield United into the FA Cup semi-finals as they got the better of fellow Championship side Blackburn Rovers in a breathless encounter.
Rovers went ahead on 21 minutes through Ben Brereton Diaz’s penalty, awarded following a VAR check after Jack Robinson’s handball.
But the lead was short-lived as the Blades equalised eight minutes later with a large chunk of fortune, Max Lowe’s long-range shot deflecting in off visiting striker Sam Gallagher.
Sammie Szmodics put Rovers back in front on the hour before Oli McBurnie equalised in the 81st minute to set up an exciting finale, crowned by on-loan Manchester City midfielder Doyle’s excellent long-range drive.
Victory means Sheffield United are into the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time since 2014, when they ended up losing 5-3 to Hull.
It could be a memorable season for the Yorkshire side, who are second in the Championship and chasing a return to the Premier League.
While it was a euphoric finish for the Blades, it was heartbreaking for a Blackburn side who were looking to make it into their first semi-final since 2007 – and make a debut appearance at the new Wembley – though they remain in good shape for a play-off place in the second tier.
The draw for the FA Cup semi-finals takes place on Sunday following Brighton’s tie against Grimsby Town (14:15 GMT), live on BBC One.
A topsy-turvy tie
Jon Dahl Tomasson’s side had looked comfortable heading into the final 10 minutes but, when McBurnie’s leveller went in, the hosts seized the initiative and with the crowd behind them, made it a fantastic finale that will live long in the memory of the Bramall Lane faithful.
Blackburn made a fast start to the game with Ryan Hedges finding top scorer Brereton Diaz on the edge of the box within the opening minute, but the striker could not quite get his shot away before being dispossessed.
The hosts weathered the early storm and James McAtee had a golden opportunity to put his side in front after eight minutes when he was put through on goal, but in the end it was a tame effort at Rovers goalkeeper Aynsley Pears.
Rovers then went up the other end to launch the attack that would lead to the opening goal, as Tyler Morton crossed for Gallagher and his shot on goal was blocked by Robinson’s arm.
Referee Tim Robinson did not initially give the spot-kick but was asked to consult the video monitor by VAR, and he awarded the penalty which Brereton Diaz despatched confidently.
The Blades’ equaliser came from a lucky break as Blackburn cleared a corner which came to Max Lowe about 25 yards out, and the defender’s shot was heading off-target before Gallagher stuck out a knee trying to make a block – only to see it spin away into the net.
The hosts created two good openings within minutes of the restart but McAtee’s heavy touch passed-up a good chance in the box before Sam Baldock hit the side-netting.
At the other end, Foderingham was then forced into a fine double save, first diving low to his left to deny Harry Pickering and then pushing out Brereton Diaz’s follow-up.
McAtee then missed another big chance shortly before the hour as he seized on Lewis Travis’ loose pass to go one-on-one with Pears, with the goalkeeper poking out a boot to deny him again.
Szmodics showed him how it was done moments later when Morton won the ball back in midfield and found Gallagher, who slipped the midfielder in and he finished expertly, shooting across Foderingham into the corner.
Rovers were a whisker away from a third with 20 minutes remaining as Ryan Hedges’ well-struck left-foot shot beat Foderingham, only to hit the inside of the post and roll across the goalmouth.
The hosts had looked to be struggling to find an equaliser but were back on level terms with 10 minutes left when McBurnie collected Lowe’s pass before turning past two defenders and finishing low past Pears.
The goal changed the momentum completely and the hosts poured forward in search of the winner, which when it came was a strike of real quality, as Doyle steadied himself before unleashing a rocket which Pears could only tip further into the top corner.
- 19RobinsonBooked at 21minsSubstituted forSharpat 70′minutes
- 2BaldockSubstituted forBogleat 88′minutes
- 28McAteeSubstituted forBashamat 90+3′minutes
- 11Rankin-CostelloSubstituted forBrittainat 80′minutes
- 17CarterBooked at 62mins
- 6MortonSubstituted forDolanat 90+4′minutes
- 19HedgesSubstituted forWhartonat 80′minutes
- 8SzmodicsSubstituted forGarrettat 90+3′minutes
- Tim Robinson
Match ends, Sheffield United 3, Blackburn Rovers 2.