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Paul Heckingbottom revelled in an “unbelievable achievement” after second-tier Sheffield United twice came from behind to reach the FA Cup semi-finals.
The Blades prevailed 3-2 in a thrilling all-championship tie against Blackburn Rovers, becoming the first side from outside the Premier League to advance to the last four of the competition since Reading in 2014-15.
Blackburn twice led through Ben Brereton Diaz and Sammie Szmodics but were pegged back by a Sam Gallagher own goal and an Oli McBurnie effort, before Tommy Doyle’s stunning 25-yard strike snatched victory for the hosts in stoppage time.
Heckingbottom saluted the character demonstrated by promotion-chasing United – who are second in the Championship – and wants his players to kick on.
Writing his name in to Sheffield United history.
Phenomenal, Tommy Doyle.pic.twitter.com/2eqJeU41ua
— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) March 19, 2023
“It was a fantastic game where both teams played their part,” he told reporters during his post-match press conference. “The lads were brilliant to respond and credit to them to come from behind twice.
“For us to be in April and be in with a chance of automatic promotion and be in the semi-final of the FA Cup is an unbelievable achievement. It is fantastic, and it is a big pat on the back for everyone at the club.
“I’m really focused and intent on us achieving something and not just getting credit, but getting an outcome. I was hoping and dreaming of something like this and everyone should enjoy it.”
Match-winner Doyle told ITV: “It feels amazing. We worked really hard. We made it difficult for ourselves at times, but to be going to Wembley is a special feeling.”
Meanwhile, Blackburn boss Jon Dahl Tomasson was left to rue what might have been, telling RoversTV: “We’re bitterly disappointed to not get the result that our performance deserved.
“The lads did an excellent job, and we should probably have scored the third goal to kill the game before the 80th minute.
“Football can be cruel, and I’m disappointed for the fans, who gave us great backing. The boys will look back with pride from our cup campaigns, but today they’ll be disappointed.”