Story by Robin Popley
Since my club, Leicester City, were downed in the second round by Burton Albion I must admit progress in the cup has somewhat passed me by. However, this week’s action, was bordering on the sublime. No scratch that. Insane!
Tuesday saw a whole feast of goals, in particular at the Madjeski, where Reading were hosting Arsenal. For most of the first half, it had seemed as if Reading were on their way to a somewhat remarkable thrasing of their London guests, leading 4 goals to nil after only 37 minutes; the first and third goals courtesy of Roberts and Leigertwood – either side of a Koscielny own goal – before Noel Hunt added Reading’s Fourth. However, after Theo Walcott had made it 4 – 1, Arsenal’s would-be hat-trick hero inspired a come back of inspired provision. Olivier Giroud made it 4 – 2 after 64 minutes before Koscielny rectified his earlier mistake by making it 4 – 3 to Reading after 89 minutes. However, even then, it looked as if Arsenal had left it a little too late. Nevertheless, in true cup football fashion, Walcott became Arsenal’s saviour in the dying seconds, deathly putting away his second of the night to take the tie to extra time. Things were to get even better for Arsenal when they took the lead for the first time on the night through Chamakh after 103 minutes, before Reading then equalised themselves, this time the goal being scored by frontman Pogrebnyak. With the tie seemingly heading to a penalty shoot-out, Walcott completed his hat-trick and Chamakh grabed his second (both in the 120th minute) to end the match at an astonishing scoreline of Reading 5 – 7 Arsenal.
Elsewhere, Aston Villa staved off another remarkable comeback by Swindon Town, to take their tie by three goals to two. Villa had been leading 2 – 0 but Swindon’s young star Miles Storey looked as if he would snatch an unlucky draw to head the tie into extra time. Sadly, though, for the League One club Villa would show their Premier League class in the 90th winning it through rising sensation Christian Benteke.
Across the rest of the country there were shocks as Championship Leeds United defeated Premier League outfit Southampton 3 – 0. Middlesborough, another Championship side, beat their local rivals Sunderland 1 – 0 at the Stadium of Light but the big giant killing of the night goes to Bradford who defeated Wigan Athletic at the DW 4 – 2 on Penalties after the match had ended 0 -0 after extra time.
They say that revenge can be sweet. I suspect that is what Chelsea fans were saying after leaving the Bridge last night, following their 5 – 4 victory over Manchester United, the team who defeated them as recently as Sunday afternoon: again at fortress Stamford Bridge. The lasting memory of Sunday’s game will be the allegations against Referee Mark Clattenberg. Thankfully, last night will be remembered for the football on show.
Manchester United had taken the early lead through their veteran Ryan Giggs on 22 minutes. However, Chelsea’s never-do-die attitude – as demonstrated by their success in last Season’s Champions League campaign – came out of the cupboard again, when David Luiz levelled the match after 31 minutes from the spot. Man-of-the-Match from Sunday, Javier Hernandez would again continue his fine goal scoring form, by re-claiming the lead for United after 43 minutes but their joy was short lived as Gary Cahill again equalised for the home side seven minutes into the second half. In this typically topsy-turvy encounter, it would be United who would once again re-claim the lead, this time through Portugese winger Nani. However, that was to be as good as it got for United, as firstly Eden Hazard took the tie to extra-time with his side’s second penalty of the match on the strike of full time before Daniel Sturridge and Ramires completed the rout for Chelsea, on 97 and 116 minutes respectively. Ryan Gigg’s conversion of the third penalty of the evening was no consolation for United who were knocked out of the cup, adding to the wait for futher domestic silverware at Old Trafford a little longer.
Elsewhere, Norwich defeated Tottenham 2 – 1 at Carrow Road, with Clint Dempsey missing the opportunity to enforce extra time after missing from 12 yards. Finally, Brendan Rodgers former side Swansea further added to their former boss’s woes, deservedly beating Liverpool 3 – 1 at Anfield in normal time.