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2019-20 FA Cup: Third Round Report

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The FA Cup is one of the oldest knock-out tournaments of the world where a humongous number of 128 English clubs of all tiers are able to showcase their skills. Top Premier League sides jostle for progress with Tier 4 sides. The 2019-20 FA Cup has come to a stage where it’s third round action is in progress. Premier League leaders Liverpool without their three attacking stalwarts – Mohammed Salah, Roberto Firminio and Sadio Mane and key man at the back Virgil Van Djik were able to knock out a full-strength Everton side thanks to  a stunning long-ranger from debutant 18-year old Curtis Jones. Klopp fielded a side that also had first-timers in the form of Takumi Minamino, Nathaniel Phillips and substitute Yasser Larouci. Last season’s title holders Manchester City coasted comfortably to a win over 4th-tier side Port Vale. Goals from Oleksandr Zinchenko, Sergio Aguero, Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Phil Foden gave City a 4-1 win while Port Vale’s lone goal came from Tom Pope. League One and 2nd tier club Tranmere Rovers produced a brilliant fightback to draw 3-3 against last year’s runners-up Watford. Goals from Tom Dele-Bashiru, Nathaniel Chalobah and Roberto Pereyra had given the Hornets a 3-0 lead by half-time. But Connor Jennings netted immediatlely for Tranmere after the interval and Manny Monthe made it 3-2 in the 78th minute. With three minutes to go at Vicarage Road Rovers the visitors equalized with an 87th-minute penalty from Paul Mullin, after Mason Barrett fouled winger Corey Blackett-Taylor. Eight-time FA Cup winners Chelsea eased into the fourth-round draw with a 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest. Callum Hudson-Odoi put Frank Lampard’s side ahead after in the 6th minute and Ross Barkley doubled the lead for the Blues just after the half-hour mark. AFC Fylde, the lowest-ranked team in the third round, fell to a 2-1 defeat by Premier League side Sheffield United but it wasn’t all smooth-sailing for the Blades who had to wait for 30 minutes to get their second goal after they found the net quickly in the 8th minute through  Callum Robinson. Jordan Williams narrowed the gap for the Coasters with an intelligent lob over the Sheffield goal-keeper Dean Henderson. Goals from Pablo Zabaleta and Pablo Fornals helped new coach David Moyes’ West Ham to overcome League One side Gillingham 2-0 and progress into the next round. Welsh side Newport County, a League Two club side, that create ripples in the previous season by giving a tough time to big boys Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City succumbed tamely to Millwall 0-3 this time with goals coming for the hosts from Matt Smith, Connor Mahoney and Tom Bradshaw. Championship side and 2nd-tier side Derby knocked out Crystal Palace with a 1-0 win as Middlesbrough forced a third-round replay against Tottenham. Jose Mourinho fielded a full-strength Spurs side, minus the injured Harry Kane, but trailed to Derby when Ashley Fletcher slotted home 5 minutes into the second half. Lucas Moura saved the day for the visitors with a fine header from a Serge Aurier cross in the 61st minute. Queens Park Rangers (QPR) thrashed Swansea 5-1 with Jordan Hugill scoring two first-half goals for the hosts. Bright Osayi-Samuel, Lee Wallace and Josh Scowen also scored for Mark Warburton’s side with substitute George Byers bagging a consolation for the Swans. 

Without Jamie Varddy, James Madisson and Ayoze Perez in the Leicester City side, the Foxes attack lacked teeth and both the goals they got against second-level Championship side Wigan Athletic were fortitous in nature. An own goal from Latics debutant Tom Pearce and a deflected effort from Harvey Barnes gave the Foxes, second in the Premier League, a 2-0 home victory. Wolverhampton and Manchester United played out a lackluster 0-0 draw where the only exciting moments came when Marcus Rashford and Raul Jimenez both struck the woodwork in the second half for either side. Premier League sides Brighton & Hove and Aston Villa were knocked out of the FA Cup after succumbing to Championship grade or 2nd-tier sides. Sheffield Wednesday rode on a 65th minute by Adam Reach whose deflected shot beat Brighton goal-keeper David Button all ends up while Villa went down to previous season’s EPL rejects Fulham 1-2. Villa who are 17th in the Premier League presently have now gone four years without winning aa FA Cup match were down to a Anthony Knockaert goal in the 54th minute but Anwar El Ghazi equalized for the visitors inside 10 minutes. But Harry Arter restored Fulham’s lead with a blistering effort from 30 yards. 

Arsenal survived a scrappy match in which Reiss Nelson scrambled home the lone goal that took his side into the 4th round at the Emirates on Monday night. The Gunners survived a torrid first half in which Leeds had as many as 15 attempts on goal with one from Patrick Bamford hitting the bar. But Mikel Arteta’s men responded well in the second half with some excellent football that saw his team through.

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