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Tim Howard heroics secure Everton final berth

Tim Howard saved two spot-kicks as Everton ended Manchester United’s hopes of a quintuple of trophies, winning 4-2 on penalties after a goalless two hours at Wembley to reach their first FA Cup final since overcoming the Red Devils in the 1995 showpiece.

Tim Cahill missed first for Everton before Howard saved Dimitar Berbatov’s effort. The U.S. goalkeeper then did likewise from Rio Ferdinand, after Leighton Baines had scored, and both sides converted their subsequent kicks to leave Phil Jagielka with the honour of deciding the tie in favour of the Merseysiders.

United made wholesale changes from the victory against FC Porto in the UEFA Champions League in midweek, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney not in the squad but Federico Macheda making his first start after scoring on his last two outings as a substitute. It was the Italian teenager who came closest in a quiet opening quarter, shooting wide after cutting in from the left, while at the other end Louis Saha almost punished Ben Foster’s hesitancy in dealing with a back-pass.

Neither goalkeeper had been worked, though, and it was the outstretched boot of Joleon Lescott that very nearly resulted in the opener, the defender deflecting Danny Welbeck’s effort just wide. Cahill forced Foster into the first save of the game eight minutes after the break before Darron Gibson tested Howard. There was plenty of endeavour from both sides but little in terms of goalmouth action until Foster denied Cahill with his legs in extra time. However, little else followed and the tie drifted to penalties where Howard proved decisive to set up a final with Chelsea.