Chelsea win, United through to face Reds
Manchester United booked their place in the fourth round of the FA Cup after seeing off a brave fightback by the ten men of Manchester City to post a thrilling 3-2 victory at the Etihad Stadium, and will face fellow rivals Liverpool in the next round.
United, who before the match had caused a sensation by announcing that Paul Scholes had come out of retirement and would be part of their matchday squad, took the lead through Wayne Rooney's brave header before City captain Vincent Kompany was sent off for a two-footed challenge on Nani. City confirmed after the match that they would appeal the Belgian's red card, but that was far from the end of the drama in an enthralling derby encounter.
Danny Welbeck's volley increased United's advantage before Rooney's second of the match made it 3-0 at the break, the striker nodding home on the rebound after Costel Pantilimon, playing in place of the rested Joe Hart, had saved his penalty kick. A fired-up City hit back after the break, pulling goals back through an Aleksandar Kolarov free-kick and Sergio Aguero's close-range effort, but United held on in the face of intense late pressure to end City's FA Cup defence at the first hurdle.
At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea left it late to register a 4-0 win over Portsmouth, setting them up with the chance to face fellow west-Londoners Queen's Park Rangers, or League One side MK Dons. Chelsea always had the upper-hand on their second-tier opponents but failed to find the target in the opening period. They finally got their noses in front after 48 minutes through Juan Mata, while two quickfire goals by Ramires inside the final ten minutes and Frank Lampard's stoppage-time strike added gloss to the scoreline.
A brilliant performance from goalkeeper Nicky Weaver and Chris O'Grady's 88th-minute goal saw npower League One side Sheffield Wednesday dump Championship outfit West Ham out thanks to a 1-0 win at Hillsborough. They will now face the challenge of a trip to the coast against Championship side Blackbool in the fourth round. O'Grady won the game a low drive drive that stand-in West Ham goalkeeper Ruud Boffin should have done better with, but it was veteran stopper Weaver who was the star of the show. The 32-year-old produced a string of fine stops, including a stunning second-half penalty save from Sam Baldock.
Finally, Sunderland's improved form under Martin O'Neill shows no sign of abating as the Premier League outfit eased to a 2-0 win over Championship side Peterborough at London Road, Sebastian Larsson and James McClean with the goals in the second half.
The clash between north-west rivals Liverpool and Manchester United is unarguably the tie of the round, but with Sunderland facing neighbours Middlesbrough, as well a total of six potential all-Premier League clashes, the fourth round of the FA Cup looks full of potential. Following replays on 17 and 18 January, the sides out of the hat will look to progress to the fifth round 11 days later.
Draw for the fourth round of the FA Cup:
Brighton and Hove Albion or Wrexham v Newcastle United
Sunderland v Middlesbrough
Dagenham and Redbridge or Millwall v Southampton
Hull v Crawley
Milton Keynes Dons or Queens Park Rangers v Chelsea
West Bromwich Albion v Norwich
Blackpool v Sheffield Wednesday
Arsenal or Leeds v Aston Villa
Stevenage v Notts County
Watford v Tottenham Hotspur
Liverpool v Manchester United
Derby County v Stoke City
Everton v Fulham
Macclesfield Town or Bolton Wanderers v Swansea City
Sheffield United v Birmingham City or Wolverhampton Wanderers
Nottingham Forest or Leicester City v Swindon Town
Ties to be played on the weekend of 28/29 January