Sunderland sneaked into the Capital One Cup final after beating Manchester United 2-1 in a penalty shootout after the 120 minutes of football in their second leg semifinal finished 2-1 on Wednesday night at Old Trafford, but 3-3 on aggregate.
Sunderland will now take on Manchester City in the final of the cup competition.
The start of the first half saw United doing all the pressing as they went in search of the goal that would draw them level on aggregate over the two legs.
In the sixth minute the home side came close to finding that goal when Javier Hernandez met a free-kick cross from the right courtesy of Adnan Januzaj, but the Mexican international saw his header from six-yards out brilliantly saved by the keeper.
In the 19th minute Sunderland created their first real opening in front of goal as Fabio Borini fired a thunderous shot inches over the crossbar from 24-yards out.
Only the frame of the goal denied United in the 35th minute as Darren Felthcer met a right wing cross from Shinji Kagawa, but his header bounced of the left post.
A minute later, though, and the Red Devils did find the back of the net after a corner from Januzaj was miss-hit by Danny Welbeck, the ball deflecting off the striker and finding Jonny Evans at the back post, the defender heading home from a couple of yards out, 1-0 (2-2 on aggregate).
Sunderland had the last say of the half as Wes Brown saw a goalbound header cleared of the goalline by Alexander Buttner.
The second 45 saw United start the better of the two sides as Rafael cut in from the right flank and fired a 22-yard shot just over in the 49th minute.
Five minutes later a swift passing movement saw Januzaj in space just outside the box, but his dipping shot skimmed the wrong side of the crossbar.
Sunderland then started finding their feet in the game and went in search of the goal that would knock United out of the cup competition.
The Black Cats began controlling the possession stakes, but struggled to break down a resilient United defence.
Borini did come close in the 78th minute as he flashed a 16-yard shot from an acute angle on the left a whisker wide of the goal.
United, very uncharacteristically, sat back in defence and seemed content to take the game into extra-time after the aggregate score over the two legs sat at 2-2 following the 90 minutes, the away goal rule only coming into play after 120 minutes of action.
With Sunderland pushing forward in search of the goal they needed to win the tie in extra-time they left themselves exposed to the counter-attack.
Hernandez should really have put the tie beyond doubt in the 101st minute when he was put through on goal, but with just the keeper to beat he fired wide of goal.
Then, just as it looked as if United would hold on for the 2-2 aggregate draw, a result which would have seen them through to the final, a costly error from goalkeeper David de Gea allowed Sunderland to equalise on the night.
In the 119th minute Peter Bardsely unleashed a rather tame effort from 22-yards out which should have been a routine save, but De Gea fumbled it into the back of his own net, 1-1 (3-2 on aggregate).
United, though, as we have come to know throughout the last two decades, never give up and they managed to find a goal in the last seconds of extra-time, Hernandez turning home a low cross from the left from only a couple of yards out, 2-1 (3-3 on aggregate).
The match moved into the dreaded penalty shoot-out which would decide who would face Manchester City in the final.
It was one of the worst penalty shootouts to witness, but in the end it was Sunderland who walked away victorious, winning 2-1.
Sunderland: Gardner – miss
Man United: Welbeck – miss
Sunderland: Steven Feltcher – De Gea saves
Man United: Darren Fletcher – scores
Sunderland: Alonso – scores
Man United: Januzaj – Mannone saves
Sunderland: Ki – scores
Man United: Jones – misses
Sunderland: Johnson – De Gea saves
Man United: Rafael - Mannone saves
Sundelrand win 2-1 on penalties.