Manchester United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer enjoyed his fifth successive victory since being named interim manager as his much-changed side beat second-tier strugglers Reading 2-0 at home in the FA Cup third round on Saturday.
Juan Mata’s penalty and a well-taken effort in first-half stoppage time by Romelu Lukaku, given his first start since Solskjaer took over, sent United into the fourth round where they were joined by holders Chelsea who cruised to a 2-0 victory over second-tier Nottingham Forest.
Arsenal, record 13-times winners, progressed with 19-year-old Joe Willock scoring twice in a 3-0 win at third-tier Blackpool.
It was a subdued performance by the 12-times FA Cup winners at Old Trafford, where Reading impressed, but maintained former United striker Solskjaer’s dream start to life in the hot seat vacated last month by Jose Mourinho who was sacked.
“We have performed a lot better, but you can’t ask for fantasy football every time and with the changes I made you can’t expect it to have the same flow and rhythm,” Solskjaer, who became the first United manager to begin his reign with five straight wins since Matt Busby, told reporters.
Alvaro Morata’s second-half brace was enough for Chelsea, who beat United in last year’s final, to move through.
Yet fellow Spaniard Cesc Fabregas, in almost certainly his last game for the club before he is expected to join Monaco, missed a penalty in an emotional farewell at Stamford Bridge.
Third-tier Gillingham grabbed the “giant-killer” award on a day lacking much of the traditional third-round drama as the Kent club beat Premier League Cardiff City 1-0 thanks to a late strike by Elliott List.
Accrington Stanley, also of the third tier, reached the fourth round with a 1-0 win over former winners Ipswich Town who suffered a ninth successive third-round exit.
Premier League bottom club Huddersfield Town went down 1-0 to second-tier Bristol City while fourth-tier Grimsby Town held on grimly at top-flight Crystal Palace despite having a player sent off after two minutes, but were eventually floored by Jordan Ayew’s 86th-minute winner.
Premier League strugglers Burnley made hard work of a 1-0 win over third-tier Barnsley in a match notable for a bizarre intervention by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) — the system being used in nine of the 32 third-round ties.
Burnley were awarded a penalty for a foul on Matej Vydra before the interval but just as he was running up to take the spot kick the referee Simon Hooper indicated that the decision had been reversed by VAR because of an offside in the build-up.
Chris Wood did score from the spot in stoppage time.
Solskjaer made nine changes to the side that beat Newcastle United in midweek and there was a disjointed feel to his team’s display as Reading matched their illustrious opponents.
Fred, another player to get a rare start, thought he had given United the lead midway through the first half but was flagged offside, although Mata was fouled in the build-up.
Referee Stuart Attwell, helped by VAR, brought play back to award a penalty which Spaniard Mata stroked home.
Reading’s Andy Yiadom and Danny Loader both wasted good chances and United were given breathing space when Lukaku latched onto Alexis Sanchez’s pass to round keeper Anssi Jaakkola and slot home.
The only moment of note in a dour second half was Solskjaer giving a debut to 19-year-old Dutch winger Tahith Chong.
Samir Nasri made his West Ham United debut as he returned from an 18-month doping ban — the London club beating Birmingham City 2-0 with Marko Arnautovic and Andy Carroll on target.
Brighton & Hove Albion beat Bournemouth 3-1 away in an all-Premier League affair with Anthony Knockaert, Yves Bissouma and Florin Andone all on target.
Everton scored twice in the opening 14 minutes against League Two leaders Lincoln City but scraped home 2-1 while top-flight Southampton were held 2-2 by Frank Lampard’s second-tier promotion chasers Derby County.
Newcastle United needed a late Matt Ritchie penalty to salvage a replay against Blackburn Rovers while Norwich City, second in the Championship, were surprised 1-0 at home by third-tier high-flyers Portsmouth who grabbed a stoppage-time winner.
In Sundays games Newport County completed a memorable day of FA Cup shocks as they stunned 2016 English champions Leicester City 2-1 on Sunday to follow fellow fourth-tier side Oldham Athletic and minor league Barnet into the fourth round.
Humble Welsh club Newport had led from the 10th minute but their dream appeared to have been snatched away when Rachid Ghezzal smashed in a late equaliser, only for Padraig Amond to send the Rodney Parade faithful crazy with a penalty winner.
Newport, who took Tottenham Hotspur to a replay last year, held on to beat a top-flight side for the first time since 1964.
Oldham came from a goal down to defeat struggling Premier League Fulham 2-1 away at Craven Cottage while minor league Barnet won 1-0 at four-times Cup winners Sheffield United.
Manchester City recorded their biggest FA Cup victory for 51 years, thrashing Championship side Rotherham United 7-0, but it was a day for the lesser lights, with bookmaker William Hill quoting odds of over 450,000-1 for Newport, Oldham and Barnet all to win.
Newport, 13th in League Two, set about Claude Puel’s Leicester side with relish and went ahead as Robbie Willmott raced down the right and crossed for centre forward Jamille Matt to glance home a header.
Leicester, seventh in the Premier League after recent wins over Manchester City and Chelsea, eventually broke through in the 82nd minute as Ghezzal hammered a ferocious shot past keeper Joe Day who moments earlier had denied Kelechi Iheanacho.
There was a final twist, though, as Marc Albrighton, a stalwart of Leicester’s shock title-winning team, blocked a cross with his arm to gift Newport a shot at glory.
Amond stepped up calmly to send his penalty past Leicester keeper Danny Ward, once a team mate at Morecambe.
“He faced a few of my penalties in training so I was hoping he wouldn’t remember,” Amond said.
The FA Cup has lost some sheen in recent years but Oldham and Barnet, along with third-tier Gillingham who beat top-flight Cardiff City on Saturday, revived the magic.
Woking’s adventure ended in disappointment, however, as the sixth-tier club, the lowest-ranked survivors, succumbed 2-0 at home to Premier League Watford.
Remarkably, both Oldham and Barnet have caretaker managers — Pete Wild and Darren Currie — who were taking charge of their respective teams for only the third time.
There seemed little chance of an upset alongside the River Thames when Denis Odoi gave Fulham the lead in the second half but Sam Surridge equalised from the penalty spot.
Fulham were awarded a soft penalty but Alexsandar Mitrovic, brought off the bench to take the kick, had his effort superbly saved by a Danish keeper Daniel Iversen.
Callum Lang then sent 4,000 travelling Oldham fans wild with a headed winner in the 88th minute.
“It’s Roy of the Rovers stuff. It is one you have to savour. I am the most proud man in Oldham, I can’t believe it,” Wild, in temporary charge after Frankie Bunn was sacked, said.
Sheffield United began the day 84 places above Barnet but were outplayed by their lowly opponents for whom former Tottenham trainee Shaquile Coulthirst won it with a 21st-minute penalty after Richard Stearman brought down Ephron Mason-Clark.
The victory was especially sweet for Currie, in charge after the retirement last month of John Still, as his uncle Tony was once a Sheffield United great and has a stand named after him.
“I am really proud of them,” Currie, who made more than 100 appearances for the club just north of London, said.
“(Sheffield United manager) Chris Wilder said we deserved it too. There were one or two scary moments but we came through it. I am proud as punch of the boys.”
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City joined Manchester United, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal in the fourth round with a romp.
Raheem Sterling scored early on and youngster Phil Foden’s first home goal for the club and Semi Ajayi’s own goal made the result a formality before halftime. Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez, Nicolas Otamendi and Leroy Sane completed the rout.
Championship leaders Leeds United suffered a 2-1 defeat at Queens Park Rangers, third-tier Doncaster Rovers upset Championship side Preston North End 3-1, while Millwall beat Hull City 2-1.