Blades 2-2 Spurs - report
The Blades - despite a terrific second-half comeback and two goals from a teenager signed from non-league - were agonisingly edged out of the Capital One Cup in Wednesday's semi-final second-leg at Bramall Lane.
Christian Eriksen looked to have put the tie beyond United with a stunning first-half free-kick, but two goals in as many second-half minutes from Che Adams looked to be sending the clash to extra-time, before Eriksen broke the hearts of the majority of the 30,236 inside the Lane with his second with just a couple of minutes of normal time left on the watch.
But that didn't stop the home faithful giving their heroes a terrific ovation at the end, which was certainly deserved following another cup campaign packed with many memorable moments.
For the Capital One Cup semi-final showdown at Bramall Lane Jose Baxter started and was the only change from last week's first leg encounter at White Hart Lane, with teenager Louis Reed dropping to the bench. Former Blade Kyle Walker started for Spurs, who made two changes, Lamela and Dembele in for Adebayor and Townsend.
With Bramall Lane in full voice it was the visitors who started on the front foot. In the 3rd minute, Kane robbed McEveley on the right wing, before Lamela fired over after beating Doyle on the edge of the penalty area.
The game was an open affair and with United's first meaningful attack in the 10th minute, the hosts almost drew level in the tie. Campbell-Ryce showed Davies a clean pair of heels on the right and after Vorm had spilled his cross Scougall teed up Murphy who saw his close range effort blocked on the line by the Dutch goalkeeper.
Despite a few quick breaks, it was Spurs who were enjoying the majority of possession and after being fed by Lamela the lively Kane was denied by Howard, before the in-form striker tried to score at the near post after Stambouli had nicked the ball off Baxter on halfway.
With the wintery showers now gone, it was Spurs who continued to press forward and after Kane had shot into the side netting, the Premier League visitors took lead in the 28th minute and it had a real touch of top-flight quality. Doyle was penalised for a foul on the advancing Stambouli and from the resulting free-kick ERIKSEN curled home a delightful effort into the top corner of the net, giving Howard no chance from 25 yards out on the angle.
Academy graduate Walker was the first name into referee Dean's notebook for a foul on Murphy, before Scougall broke forward and fed McNulty who fired wide, shooting on the turning from 30 yards out. At the other end, Doyle was booked after catching Mason in full flight, this time Eriksen hit the wall with his free-kick from a similar position, as the first-half drew to a close.
The second period began with light snow falling over Bramall Lane and Mason was the second Spurs player to go into Dean's book for a foul on Scougall, before Dembele became the third for a cynical trip on Murphy. From the resulting free-kick on the left, which was taken quickly, Baxter's powerfully struck goal bound effort was blocked.
Flynn was the next player to be yellow carded for clipping Dembele's ankles, before Reed replaced Doyle in the Blades midfield, as Kane tested Howard with a long-range free-kick after McEveley's foul on Lamela.
Spurs were quickly on the attack again, but Baxter produced an excellent last ditch block tackle to stop Mason getting a shot on goal following Lamela's through ball and in the 77th minute, United gave themselves a lifeline. Flynn advanced down the right and as Higdon attracted the attentions of two defenders, the ball rolled to substitute ADAMS at the back post who calmly side footed past Vorm.
Bramall Lane was now rocking and the noise reached breaking point in the 79th minute as the Blades went ahead of the night. This time Murphy found some space on the right and after leaving Vertonghen grounded he crossed into the box and it was teenager ADAMS who fired home past Vorm with the aid of deflection to send the home faithful into delirium.
As the game entered the final ten minutes, Reed had a chance to put the Blades in front on aggregate, but he fired inches over from Flynn's pinpoint pass. Then in the 88th minute, the game took a really cruel twist against the Blades. From a goal kick the ball ricocheted into the path of Kane who threaded a pass through to ERIKSEN, he let the ball run across his body before stroking the ball past Howard and into the net off the far post.
Four minutes of injury-time were signalled as Basham was thrown up front in a desperate bid to send the game into extra-time. Tempers nearly boiled over in front of the Kop as Basham made a sliding challenge on Vorm and despite excellent support right up until Dean's final whistle, the Blades hopes of a return to Wembley were brought to an end after giving their Premier League opponents a real scare.
Blades: Howard, Harris, Basham, Flynn, Doyle (Reed 66), Murphy, Scougall, Baxter, McNulty (Higdon 74), McEveley, Campbell-Ryce (Adams 74).
Unused: Alcock, Turner, Kennedy, K. Wallace.
Spurs: Vorm, Walker, Vertonghen, Lamela (Townsend 74), Dier, Kane, Dembele (Paulinho 66), Eriksen, Stambouli, Davies, Mason (Rose 90).
Unused: Soldado, Adebayor, Fazio, Friedel.