United, Villa up for the Cup
© AFP

English Premier League champions Manchester United and fellow top four side Aston Villa both made it through to the fourth round of the FA Cup on Sunday.

English, European and world champions United ensured there was no repeat of their shock defeat by Southampton in the 1976 FA Cup final with a 3-0 victory away to the struggling Championship side. Earlier, Villa were made to work hard for a 2-1 away win against League Two side Gillingham.

At St Mary's, United's 18-year-old striker Danny Welbeck followed up to score from close range in the 20th minute after Saints keeper Kelvin Davis had pushed John O'Shea's header onto the crossbar. Southampton's task was then made all but impossible after Matthew Paterson was sent-off shortly before half-time after receiving a straight red card from referee Mike Riley for a studs-up challlenge on Nemanja Vidic.

Manchester United, who've won the FA Cup a record 11 times, went 2-0 up early in the second-half when Nani scored with a penalty awarded by Riley after he ruled the Portugal midfielder's free-kick had been blocked by David McGoldrick's hands.

Replays suggested the ball had in fact hit McGoldrick on the back of the head but, by raising his arms, the Saints player clouded the issue. Substitute Darron Gibson made it 3-0 with his first United goal nine minutes from time.

Villa saw James Milner mark his 23rd birthday by scoring both their goals at the Priestfield Stadium.  But in between Simeon Jackson drew League Two Gillingham, 74 places below Villa, level with a superb shot before Milner's 79th minute penalty, awarded after Ashley Young was fouled in the box, settled the tie.

United will now welcome top-flight rivals Tottenham Hotspur to Old Trafford in the fourth round.  But Spurs manager Harry Redknapp, previously in charge of FA Cup holders Portsmouth, knows what it takes to win a Cup away to United having overseen Pompey's shock 1-0 quarter-final win at Old Trafford last season.

Villa will be away in the fourth round to lower league opposition in either Cheltenham or Doncaster.