FA CUP FINAL: Everton stun Manchester United in five-goal thriller
Everton have won their first piece of domestic silverware since a similar triumph in 1995 under the leadership of Joe Royle - that day their opposition was indeed Manchester United, and the Toffees won it 1-0.
Roberto Martinez dared to dream of winning the FA Cup twice in two years with two different clubs and his dream became reality in what was an unbelievable game of football.
Everton, in their first final since defeat to Manchester United in 2009, made the most of their numerical advantage in the closing stages, after ex-Toffee Marouane Fellaini had seen red for United in the 31st minute.
It was a deserved triumph for the Blues, for whom Ross Barkley was outstanding, and completed a personal triumph for chairman Bill Kenwright, who has always wanted to oversee his team win a trophy at Wembley.
But for United, it means a trophyless campaign, and raises further questions over the future of David Moyes, who it is rumoured will be replaced by Louis van Gaal in the summer.
Everton boss Roberto Martinez came up with an ingenious way of trying to overcome the attacking threat that became apparent against his team. In leaving Romelu Lukaku and Gerard Deulofeu upfield even as City pressed, he forced the Red Devils to temper their attacking instincts, denying them the width which adds to the obvious danger their flair players pose.
Everton became favorites when their former midfielder Marouane Fellaini was sent off for a vicious two footed lunge on Ross Barkley - who we should mention did not make a meal of the challenge and was back on his feet within seconds of going down. Andre Marriner, in agreement with anyone who has seen the tackle, showed Fellaini the red card and United were down to 10.
However, the scoring was opened on 38 minutes, and it was first blood to Moyes and Manchester United, Robin van Persie lashing a 25-yard strike past Tim Howard, a pained expression growing on the face of Roberto Martinez - but give up they would not.
The half-time whistle blew and Everton could claim most of the best chances. But in David De Gea, United had a keeper in form. The Spain Under-21 star turned away an early effort from Romelu Lukaku and denied Phil Jagielka and Ross Barkley later in the half.
In the middle was the best of the lot as Everton's notoriously stern defence parted to let Van Persie through again, which allowed the Dutch international to set up Juan Mata.
The ex-Chelsea star looked certain to score as his effort headed to one corner as Howard plunged towards the other. Somehow though, the USA man kept it out with his legs, in one of those moments that ends up being etched in final history.
And Everton had chances to get their noses in front during that opening period too. Barkley was a constant threat, but first after running onto Gareth Barry's pass and then electing to check inside and curl home with his left foot rather than shooting first-time with his right, then embarking on a Ricky Villa-like slalom and driving a shot against Vidic, he wasted the best of them.
Not that he could be blamed 9 minutes after half-time when he embarked on a bewitching run into the United box and was scythed down by Jonny Evans, penalty to Everton.
England left-back stood over it, calm as you like - and slotted home his seventh penalty of the season to see Everton level.
Moyes executed a tactical rejig to counter Martinez's attacking intentions, but it was Everton who hit the woodwork, albeit unintentionally, as Barry's intended far post free-kick bounced off the bar with De Gea stranded.
Incredibly, sending the blue half of 90,000 spectators into pandemonium was Everton's Ross Barkley, who again embarked on a wild run, beating 4 players before rounding De Gea and side-footing the ball into the back of the United goal. Absolute scenes. Everton lead 2-1 and there is 21 minutes left on the clock. Can United salvage something? Extra-time perhaps?
But it was time for another Manchester United assault, and with six minutes remaining Everton fans could barely watch - and so they shouldn't, Juan Mata brilliantly equalizing with a superbly hit volley from the apex of the 18 yard box, dipping beyond Howard almost in slow-motion. Heartbreak. Advantage United, at 2-2, all the momentum was with the still energetic looking Reds.
Everton re-started the game on 85 minutes, Martinez screaming encouragement from the sidelines. The ball fell at Phil Jagielka's feet, and stood inside his own half, he spotted Lukaku causing havoc among the United back-line. The England defender hit a 70 yard ball, Big Sam style, all the way forward to Lukaku who chested it sideways to an on-running Steven Pienaar who hurdled over a Vidic lunge and slotted past De Gea to send Wembley into raptures. Pure ecstasy was being witnessed for anyone inside the ground, Roberto Martinez running the full-length of the touchline to celebrate with his players. It was an instant reply from Everton, and United were down and out. 3-2 the final score.
Everton fans waiting for the final whistle...
Hero Pienaar was sent-off dubiously for his part in a hustle and bustle melee between a group of players from each team in injury time - though that must not take the shine off what is an incredible achievment for Martinez and Everton - who look like a team who could dominate Europe next term, nevermind just England.
A second place finish in the Premier League and an FA Cup victory - Roberto Martinez is statistically the greatest manager Everton have ever had.