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League Cup: Man Utd survives scare; 3 PL sides lose to lower-tier foes

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Chelsea and Liverpool cruised, but only one other Premier League side one… and it was the one playing another top-flight rival.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 7-1 Grimsby Town ]

A day after Tottenham fell to Colchester United, League One sides Oxford United, Burton Albion, and Sunderland all took down PL foes in the League Cup to book fourth round berths.

Manchester United 1-1 (5-3 penalties) Rochdale

Sergio Romero made a save in the second round of kicks and that’s all Manchester United needed to avoid an embarrassing upset at home to League One’s Rochdale.

The combined age of goal scorers at Old Trafford before penalties was 33, as Paul Pogba returned to the United XI but couldn’t spare his men blushes despite a dominant performance.

Mason Greenwood, 17, scored off a Jesse Lingard assist in the 68th minute, seemingly capping a dominant performance that lacked finish.

But 16-year-old defender Luke Matheson scored eight minutes later to ratchet up the pressure at Old Trafford, and Daniel James and Juan Mata came off the bench for the Red Devils (who also handed a debut to 19-year-old left back Brandon Williams).

Oxford United 4-0 West Ham United

Elliott Moore‘s second half goal gave the League One side a 55th minute lead over Manuel Pellegrini‘s in-form Irons, and well-traveled striker Matt Taylor turned the hopes of a “cupset” up to 11.

By the time Tariqe Fosu made it 3-0 against a very decent West Ham side including Issa Diop, Jack Wilshere, Pablo Fornals, and Pablo Zabaleta, it was academic.

Shandon Baptiste added to the Kassam Stadium jubilation with a stoppage time finish.

Burton Albion 2-0 Bournemouth

Oliver Sarkic delivered the goods for the underdogs, who took an early lead against Eddie Howe‘s in-form Cherries. Nathan Broadhead later scored in a match which was thrice (!!!) stopped by floodlight failure, as the Brewers stunned the Cherries.

MK Dons 0-2 Liverpool

Playing at the back for a very young Liverpool, James Milner gave the Reds a lead they would not toss aside at Stadium MK.

Milner assisted on Ki-Jana Hoever‘s second half goal, as the second-choice Reds XI was given a decent challenge by Paul Tisdale’s side.


Brighton and Hove Albion 1-3 Aston Villa

Conor Hourihane and Jota scored in the first 33 minutes, as Villa continued to heap misery on Brighton’s poor run of form in the only all-Premier League match of the day. Hayden Roberts pulled one back in the second half, but that’s all the Seagulls could muster and Jack Grealish restored a two-goal lead for Villa before the match was finished at the Amex Stadium.

Sheffield United 0-1 Sunderland

Max Power — yes, that’s really his name — gave the Black Cats a ninth minute lead over the Premier League’s Blades.

Wolves 1-1 (4-2 pens.) Reading

Bruno Jordao scored his first Wolves goal, as American center back Matt Miazga returned to the Reading lineup after an injury spell cost him four matches and an international break with the USMNT.

But Reading kept pushing for an equalizer and got a deserved one when Lucas Boye scored in the ninth (!!) minute of stoppage time to force penalties.

Miazga was one of only two Reading players to score in the session, as Wolves escaped with their League Cup lives.

Paul Pogba set to return for Man United

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Paul Pogba is set to return for Manchester United against Rochdale on Wednesday.

Pogba has been missing since picking up an ankle injury in the 1-1 draw at Southampton on Aug. 31, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has revealed the Frenchman is in contention to play at Old Trafford against League One Rochdale.

“He’ll probably get some minutes against Rochdale,” Solskjaer said. “But we definitely think he’s ready for Arsenal.”

Despite all of the criticism about Pogba’s inconsistent displays, United have missed him in midfield over the last few weeks.

In the two Premier League games he’s been missing, United have lost to West Ham and narrowly beat Leicester City.

Scott McTominay has been okay in central midfield but both Fred and Nemanja Matic have failed to take their chance with Pogba out of the team.

In recent games United have looked lethargic and lacking ideas in the attacking third. Pogba’s return will change that.

With the Arsenal game next Monday in mind (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Solskjaer will he hoping the likes of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw will all be available to play, but that trio will not be fit enough to play against Rochdale.

Mason Greenwood will be available to play in the League Cup game after recovering from tonsillitis.

Tottenham 6-1 Rochdale: Llorente hat-trick overrides VAR decisions

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Snow, VAR outrage and plenty of goals were the main attraction during Wednesday’s FA Cup fifth round replay at Wembley Stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur avoided any upset discussions with a 6-1 victory over Rochdale, despite the Premier League facing some shaky moments due to unfavorable VAR decisions in the first half.

[ MORE: PSG confirms Neymar will have surgery on injured ankle/foot ]

The match flipped in favor of Spurs just a minute into the second stanza though, when Fernando Llorente’s perfectly-timed run finished off with a lobbed finish over goalkeeper Josh Lillis.

Llorente quickly secured a hat-trick within 14 minutes, and capped off his day with his third goal in the 59th minute from a tap-in header.

Stephen Humphrys had equalized just beyond the half hour mark in a stunning turn of events for the visitors, after the striker finished off a through ball from Andrew Cannon.

Cannon nearly gave Rochdale the lead on the stroke of halftime when his low shot struck the post in the 45th minute.

Tottenham took a 1-0 lead on 23 minutes when Heung-Min Son cut in on his right foot and blasted a shot into the far corner beating Lillis.

A penalty decision four minutes later resulted in a second Spurs goal from Son, however, referee Paul Tierney ruled the spot kick off when the South Korean kick taker stuttered during his penalty attempt.

Son was shown a yellow card for the infraction, and the goal was ruled off.

The agile attacker would add another goal in the second half though when he scored Tottenham’s fifth.

Erik Lamela thought he had put Spurs ahead in the sixth minute, however, a controversial VAR decision ruled the goal off despite confusion that ensued throughout Wembley Stadium.

The hosts were furious once again in the 20th minute when Lucas Moura went down inside the Rochdale penalty area. However, the referee opted to play on, despite VAR reviewing the play once again.

Lamela was denied an opportunity to score once again in the 73rd minute, when the Argentine struck the post.

Second-half substitute Kyle Walker-Peters capped off the scoring for the London side with a goal in stoppage time to make it 6-1.

Tottenham will now move on to face Swansea City in the sixth round, as seven PL clubs remain in this season’s FA Cup.

FA Cup preview: Swans-Wednesday, Spurs-Rochdale

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Swansea City’s new managerial hero meets his old mates, and Mauricio Pochettino‘s men hope to avoid further egg on their collective face.

[ MORE: PL All Star teams? ]

It starts Tuesday, when Carlos Carvalhal leads his resurgent Swans against the club he managed just over two months ago.

Sheffield Wednesday’s the name, and the winner gets to host either Tottenham Hotspur and Rochdale. Those two stage their replay at White Hart Lane on Wednesday.

Swansea City vs. Sheffield Wednesday — 3:05 p.m. ET Tuesday

The sides drew 0-0 on Feb. 17 at Hillsborough Stadium, the 28th all-time meeting between the two clubs. No. 29 comes at the Liberty Stadium, where the Owls have not won since 1983. Not to fear, Wednesday faithful, there have only been two draws in the interim.

A win won’t be a wild upset for Wednesday, but it would give a measure of respect to a season which saw the club drop from promotion hopefuls to 17th in the Championship table. Here’s Wednesday’s Cameron Dawson, who made his name as Carvalhal’s surprise keeper:

“He had a nice moment coming back to Hillsborough but now he will be in his home place in Swansea and we will have to try and go there and get a result. But we will back ourselves to do that. We want to get a positive result after Saturday and knock Carlos out of the cup.”

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Rochdale — 3:05 p.m. ET Wednesday

Rochdale and Spurs looked destined for a 1-1 replay when late drama had other ideas at the Spotland Stadium. Dele Alli launched himself into outer space to win a late penalty, converted by Harry Kane, but Steven Davies stunned the Premier League powers with a stoppage time goal to force a replay.

The Dale are heavy underdogs at Wembley Stadium, and Spurs will be aching to find their finishing boots after a frustrating weekend win over Crystal Palace.

Money from Wembley replay will ‘support Rochdale for two or three years’

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Worst-case scenario for Tottenham Hotspur: drawing League One side Rochdale in Sunday’s FA Cup fifth-round clash; best-case scenario for the Dale: drawing the Premier League giants and forcing a replay at Wembley Stadium.

[ MORE: Man Utd draw Brighton in FA Cup QF; Chelsea get Leicester ]

For a club the size of Rochdale — 10,200-seat stadium, and never been above the third tier of English soccer — the financial impact of raking in half of the game’s gate receipts “will support the club for the next two or three years,” according to manager Keith Hill — quotes from the Guardian:

“I don’t know how much it is worth but a lot of money has gone into the new pitch. That was a heavy investment for us. Hopefully the money we make will support the club for the next two or three years. We will cut our cloth accordingly and we won’t be in debt.”

As for Steve Davies’ 93rd-minute equalizer, Hill was adamant that it was nothing short of what they “deserved”:

“It was a feeling of reward, not relief, because the performance deserved at least the opportunity for us to go to Wembley for a replay. I’ve always wanted to do that against a Premier League team and manager. Why not take them on and try to win? It could have been football suicide but I thought we gained their respect and to score the goal we did was tremendous. The players were magnificent.”

Tottenham Hotspur, soccer philanthropists.