GUS Poyet hailed penalty shout-out king Vito Mannone as Sunderland’s hero in the wake of the Black Cats reaching the Capital One Cup final last night.
The Italian stopper’s peformance in both legs of the semi-final was outstanding and at the death at Old Trafford he held his nerve to make two penalty saves as Sunderland reached a Wembley cup final for the first time since 1992.
Afterwards, the Black Cats’ boss admitted he could hardly believe the beleagured club he had inherited three months ago was now heading to a cup final.
But he was pretty clear on who the hero of the hour was.
“Vito’s been getting better and better and he was the difference between the two teams.”
His form over the two legs has been something to witness.
And it was appreciated by everyone of his team-mates who raced towards him at the final whistle to celebrate.
“I will let you into a little secret,” said Poyet. “When Vito went into the dressing room afterwards the whole team started to sing his name and there’s no better feeling for a player than that.”
That spontaneous moment put the seal on an incredibly dramatic night, the like of which Poyet struggled to recall.
“It’s very difficult to explain,” he said. “I don’t remember a game like this one.
“Firstly you don’t expect to score a goal in the last minute to get through, only then to concede in the last 60 seconds.
“And then when you go into a penalty shoot-out and miss your first two penalties, you don’t expect to end that penalty shoot-out going through. We’re through though and that’s incredible.”