Big guns victorious in FA Cup clashes

CHELSEA, Manchester United, Manchester City and holders Arsenal reached the FA Cup fourth round yesterday, while third-tier Sheffield United demonstrated their cup pedigree by eliminating Queens Park Rangers.

Arsenal progressed after winning 2-0 at home to Hull City in a repeat of last season’s final, which saw Arsene Wenger’s side end their nine-year trophy drought by coming from behind to win 3-2.

The reunion with Steve Bruce’s Hull was a less dramatic affair. Per Mertesacker headed Arsenal in front from Alexis Sanchez’s 20th-minute corner and Sanchez sealed victory with a precise shot eight minutes from time.

Premier League joint-leaders Manchester City were given a scare by second-tier Sheffield Wednesday before coming through 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium thanks to a 91st-minute winner from James Milner.

Wednesday had lost 7-0 at City in the League Cup in September, but they took a 14th-minute lead through Atdhe Nuhiu, only for Milner, on his 29th birthday, to equalise in the 66th minute before snatching the winner.

City’s cross-town rivals, Manchester United, also recorded a hard-fought victory over lower-league opposition, winning 2-0 at third- tier Yeovil Town. United manager Louis van Gaal named a strong side featuring Wayne Rooney and Radamel Falcao for his first FA Cup tie, but had to wait until the 64th minute for Ander Herrera to put the visitors in front with a glorious, looping strike from 18m.

Chelsea enjoyed a rather more straightforward victory, winning 3-0 at home to second- division Watford courtesy of second-half strikes by Willian, Loic Remy and Kurt Zouma.

It could prove a positive omen, as Chelsea beat Watford en route to glory in the competition in 1970, 2009 and 2010.

Sheffield United, who reached last season’s semifinals and face Tottenham Hotspur in the last four of this season’s League Cup, won 3-0 at QPR via a Marc McNulty goal and a second- half brace from Jamal Campbell-Ryce.

QPR became the second top-flight team to be knocked out in the third round following Newcastle United’s 1-0 loss at Leicester City on Saturday.

Southampton were taken to a replay by Championship side Ipswich Town after a 1-1 draw at St Mary’s, while it took a powerful late effort by Christian Benteke for Aston Villa to overcome second-tier Blackpool 1-0.

Tottenham travel to Burnley today in a repeat of the 1962 final, which Spurs won, while Liverpool visit third-tier AFC Wimbledon. – AFP

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