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Emirates FA Cup Round Four Review

Spectacular underdog performances in the FA Cup … but can you compare with the sensational results of yesteryear. Like when Ronnie Radford and Hereford beat Newcastle – one of the greatest ever upsets.

Today so many big teams disrespect the competition. They either play the kids or they in effect look to lose, stacking the side with bit-part players.

Respectively, staying in the Premier League, getting a Champions League top four qualifying place, doing well in the Champions League proper or gaining promotion to the top flight is all that matters.

Lincoln City reached the last 16 for the first time in 115 years with a superb demolition of Championship leaders Brighton at Sincil Bank.

Yet Brighton made nine changes. Obscene. The South Coast outfit went in front through Richie Towell but the National League leaders fought back. Alan Power’s penalty started it before Fikayo Tomori put the ball past his own goalkeeper. Theo Robinson, who scored twice at Ipswich in the third round, made it safe.

Brighton deserved their humiliation … as did Liverpool. Championship side Wolves stunned the Reds with a deserved victory at Anfield.

Richard Stearman put the visitors ahead after only 53 seconds, left unmarked to head in Helder Costa’s free-kick. The manager of a Division 3 club would have been appalled how easy it was. But then a class goal.

Costa set up Andreas Weimann to round Liverpool keeper Loris Karius and double Wolves’ lead before the break.

Divock Origi scored late on, but Liverpool, my Liverpool (brought up on the Wirral, the ‘posh’ part) deserved nothing. Disgracefully, they started with just four first teamers. What were they thinking?

Out of the League Cup in the semi-finals – defeated by Southampton just days before – not in Europe, now out of the FA Cup, if they get beaten by Chelsea in the Premier League on Tuesday, their season is over.

League One side Oxford hammered Newcastle 3-0. Rafa Benitez made nine changes to his starting line-up and is no doubt glad to be out. Only promotion from the Championship matters.

I can’t believe the Geordie faithful are OK with this tosh.

Sutton United, the lowest-ranked team left in the competition, beat Leeds, 83 league places above them. Garry Monk made 10 changes. Jamie Collins’ second-half penalty sent the National League side through.

Steve Morison put League One Millwall into the last 16 with an 85th-minute volley. Hornets boss Walter Mazzarri made seven changes.

Championship side Fulham battered Hull City 4-1 at Craven Cottage. Fulham keeper Marcus Bettinelli saved two Abel Hernandez penalties. Troubled Hull, on their third manager of the season, complete disconnect between fans and owners, selling their best players, were abject.

Elsewhere Tottenham recovered from being 2-0 and 3-2 down to win 4-3 against League Two Wycombe.

Arsenal thrashed Southampton 5-0 away, Manchester United barely broke sweat to beat Wigan 4-0, Chelsea sauntered through 4-0 home to Brentford, it was 3-0 for Manchester City at Crystal Palace, though Middlesbrough had to fight hard to secure a 1-0 victory over Accrington.

It is time Premier League Clubs who deliberately field weakened teams in the FA Cup are fined £500,000 a match, win or lose.

Or perhaps the FA Cup has simply lost its sparkle and should be abandoned.

A competition which is past its time – as relevant today as the typewriter in a computer age.

 

Manchester United seal FA Cup with extra-time victory

Manchester United won their first piece of silverware under manager Louis Van Gaal as they beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Wembley on Saturday evening.

Despite the scenes of celebration after the match, speculation was rife that Van Gaal would be replaced by Jose Mourinho as manager of the Old Trafford club during the next seven days.

The first half was a tense affair with both sides creating very little between them; the only major incident came when Chris Smalling brought down Palace striker Conor Wickham.

Despite the foul Wickham was able to get back to his feet and put the ball into the net, but Mark Clattenburg had already blown his whistle for the foul. Leaving many of the Palace fans questioning the referee’s application of the advantage ruling.

In the second half The Red Devils began to assert some dominance over Alan Pardew’s side and they could have been two goals up and out of sight. After neat build up play and a lovely flick from Jesse Lingard, Marouane Fellaini saw his thunderous drive crash back off the woodwork.

Then it was Anthony Martial’s turn to strike the frame of the goal as his header from Antonio Valencia’s cross hit the post and tricked wide of the goal. With 12 minutes to go Palace looked like they had stolen the game when Jason Puncheon smashed home after United failed to clear a corner.

But just two minutes later United were level when Juan Mata’s deflected effort wrong-footed goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.

Lingard’s superb strike wins FA Cup for Manchester United

As the game entered extra-time Manchester United were forced to rely on the skills of David De Gea as he turned a wonderful Yannick Bolasie effort around the post. On the stroke of half-time United were reduced to 10 men, as Smalling received his second yellow card of the afternoon.

But with 110 minutes on the clock it was Van Gaal’s side who struck the killer blow, as Valencia’s cross rebounded to the edge of the box youngster Jesse Lingard unleashed an unstoppable effort into the top corner to seal the win; Manchester United’s first FA Cup win for 12 years.

After the game Van Gaal said: “It is fantastic to win this title for the club, for the fans, and also for me because I now have won the cup in four countries, and not many managers have done that.

“We had 10 players, and we have played Tuesday evening also, but we have deserved it I think.”

But will Van Gaal be around the trophy next season? Not if the reports are to be believed.