Edin Dzeko opened his goalscoring account for Manchester City to salvage a 1-1 draw with Notts County as Tottenham Hotspur were sent crashing out of the FA Cup in a humiliating 4-0 rout by Fulham on Sunday.
Bosnian striker Dzeko netted in the 80th minute to rescue City, who were left staring down the barrel of a shock fourth-round upset after Neal Bishop headed the lowly Magpies in front on 59 minutes at Meadow Lane.
City — who have spent more than ￡300 million (US$476 million) on players since their takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008 — are currently 58 places above Notts County, who are languishing in 18th spot in League One, but the gulf between Roberto Mancini’s expensively assembled squad and Paul Ince’s side was rarely obvious as a quagmire of a pitch acted as a leveler.
“We didn’t want a replay before the game, but I am happy to have one now,” relieved City boss Mancini said.
Notts County manager Paul Ince, meanwhile, said his side deserved credit for stifling City.
“On days like this, the club from the lower echelons should be given the credit they deserve and not have people say City did not play well,” Ince said. “We stopped them playing. It just felt like the clock stopped after we scored.”
In the most one-sided result of the day, high-flying Tottenham suffered a four-goal mauling at Craven Cottage, their heaviest ever defeat to Fulham.
A disastrous opening 15 minutes saw Spurs concede two penalties — both converted by Danny Murphy — and captain Michael Dawson red-carded.
Shambolic defending allowed Brede Hangeland to make it 3-0 on 23 minutes, before Moussa Dembele scored a fine individual effort on halftime to pile on the agony for Spurs.
In other fourth round matches on Sunday, 10-man Arsenal needed a late Cesc Fabregas penalty to overcome Huddersfield Town 2-1, while Stoke City downed Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 to advance to the fifth round.
In a thrilling encounter at Upton Park, West Ham United striker Victor Obinna scored a hat-trick as the Premier League side overcame Nottingham Forest 3-2 to advance.
Stoke, meanwhile, ended Wolves’ FA Cup campaign after defender Robert Huth struck on 81 minutes at Molineux. Wolves had a golden chance to equalize from the penalty spot late on, but Thomas Sorensen saved Nenad Milijas’ spot-kick.
At the Emirates, second-half substitute Fabregas scored from the spot on 86 minutes after League One side Huddersfield had fought back bravely from 1-0 down to level in an open encounter.
Fabregas’ winner came after Terriers defender Jamie McCombe flattened Nicklas Bendtner in the area.
The Gunners, who had Sebastien Squillaci sent off just before halftime, had earlier taken the lead through a Peter Clarke own-goal on 22 minutes. Huddersfield hit back through an Alan Lee header on 66 minutes to leave Arsenal facing the unwelcome prospect of a fourth-round replay, before Fabregas’ late spot-kick saved the day.
Victory came at a cost for Arsenal, however, with in-form midfielder Samir Nasri suffering a serious hamstring injury that could rule him out of his team’s Champions League clash with Barcelona on Feb. 16.
“It looks a serious hamstring injury and that’s usually three weeks. We have to see whether it’s a grade one or two tear,” Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said. “It’s big blow for us at the moment. It’s two weeks to that [Barcelona] game and you will soon know if he’s out, but he is doubtful. At this important stage of the season, to lose bodies is disappointing for us.”