Three English Premier League sides did their best on Saturday to play into the drama of the FA Cup, with all of Arsenal, Everton, and Manchester City needing late goals to survive road tests in the competition’s fourth round.
The day started at the Britannia, where Stoke City made their meeting with Manchester City into a drab affair. Early City ambition faded into a second half lull before Pablo Zabaleta mercifully ended any fears of a replay. The Argentine’s 85th minute goal sent the Citizens through, 1-0.
In Bolton, Everton seemed destined for a replay when manager David Moyes, in charge for the 500th time with the Toffess, made the late call to brink off striker Nikica Jelavic for John Heitenga, who was put into central midfield. Moyes implied the move was to change tactics and open the game up for Marouane Fellaini, but when Heitenga blasted home a winner in the 91st minute, Everton had what had become an unexpected 2-1 win.
“I thought Bolton had done enough to get a replay,” Moyes conceded after the match.
In Brighton, Arsenal was even late against second-tier Albion when Theo Walcott sent Guy Poyet’s side out of the competition. The 84th minute score was Walcott’s 17th all-competition goal of the season, while Olivier Giroud’s double raised the Frenchman’s total to 14.
Luton Town and Milton Keynes Dons joined Millwall as lower-division sides that claimed fourth round Premier League scalps.
Millwall advanced yesterday when John Marquis’s 89th minute goal eliminated an increasing wayward Aston Villa. Their exploits were replicated when Milton Keynes racked up a four-goal lead at Queens Park Rangers before seeing the Premier League’s bottom feeders out, 4-2.
But Luton Town were the story of the day. The fifth-tier side sitting six in England’s Conference National get an 80th minute goal from Scott Rendell (pictured) to win at first-division Norwich City, 1-0. The Hatters became the first non-league team since 1989 to beat a top side.
Jordi Gomez’s early penalty conversion saw Wigan past Macclesfield Town, 1-0 … Blackburn played to their talent level for one day, winning at Derby, 3-0 … Hull’s fall back to earth continues with a 1-0 home loss to Barnsley … A late Lukas Jutkiewicz double sends Middlesbrough past Aldershot Town, 2-1 … Noel Hunt’s two goals helped Reading route Sheffield United, 4-0 … A late Chris Wood goal earned Leicester City a replay from Huddersfield Town, 1-1 … With two goals from Javier Hernández, Manchester United cruised past Fulham, 4-1.