Norwich City and Queens Park Rangers (QPR) joined Aston Villa on the FA Cup scrapheap after famous wins for non-league Luton Town and third-tier Milton Keynes Dons in the fourth round on Saturday.
Luton, of the fifth-tier Conference National, won 1-0 at Norwich through an 80th-minute Scott Rendell goal to become the first non-league team to eliminate top-flight opposition in 24 years.
League Cup winners in 1988, but relegated from the Football League after going into administration in 2009, Luton began the day 85 places below their opponents in the English league pyramid.
They are to be only the seventh non-league team to compete in the fifth round since World War II.
“It’s a lot to take in,” Luton manager Paul Buckle said.
“The players were tremendous today. They held a Premier League team for 90-plus minutes. It’s a huge day for them, for me and for our supporters. Norwich pushed us all the way, but we were good for the win in the end,” he added.
QPR, the Premier League’s bottom club, will be able to focus all their efforts on avoiding relegation after a humiliating 4-2 defeat at home to MK Dons of League One.
Although QPR manager Harry Redknapp made nine changes to his team, his starting XI still featured seven full internationals, but they fell behind in the fourth minute when Armand Traore put through his own goal.
Strikes from Ryan Lowe, Ryan Harley and Darren Potter put the visitors 4-0 up by the 56th minute, before Jay Bothroyd and Fabio da Silva claimed a pair of consolation goals for QPR.
Premier League leaders Manchester United enjoyed a much more straightforward fourth-round assignment, sweeping past Fulham 4-1 at Old Trafford to reach the fifth round with ease.
Veteran midfielder Ryan Giggs gave United the lead in the third minute, planting a penalty in the bottom-left corner after Aaron Hughes had been penalized for handball.
United stepped up the pace early in the second period, with Wayne Rooney claiming a neatly taken goal in the 50th minute before a quick-fire Javier Hernandez double put the game to bed.
Hughes replied with a 77th-minute header for Fulham, who welcome United to Craven Cottage in the league next weekend.
“It means a lot, as we’ve not done as well as we should have [in the FA Cup] in the last eight or nine years,” Giggs told ESPN.
“There are a lot of players desperate to win it. With the history we’ve got in the competition, we should be getting to finals, so hopefully this will the year,” he added.
Arsenal needed a late Theo Walcott goal to record a 3-2 win at second-tier Brighton and Hove Albion, conquerors of Newcastle United in the previous round.
Olivier Giroud twice gave Arsenal the lead, taking his tally to four goals in two games, but Brighton hit back to equalize on each occasion, through headers from Ashley Barnes and Argentine debutant Leonardo Ulloa.
However, Arsenal had the last word, with Walcott netting in the 85th minute to spare Arsene Wenger’s men the inconvenience of a replay.
Everton, fifth in the Premier League, also had a narrow escape against second-tier opposition and needed an injury-time winner from John Heitinga to prevail 2-1 at Bolton Wanderers.
Macclesfield Town were unable to match the exploits of fifth-tier rivals Luton, going down 1-0 at home to Wigan Athletic courtesy of a seventh-minute Jordi Gomez penalty.
Earlier, a late goal by Pablo Zabaleta earned Manchester City a 1-0 win in an attritional tie at bogey team Stoke City.
The English champions had not won at Stoke in six previous visits and they lost captain and center-back Vincent Kompany to a calf injury in the first half.
However, Zabaleta struck in the 85th minute to send Roberto Mancini’s men into round five, finishing deftly from Sergio Aguero’s low cross to complete a move that he had started.
“Today we were solid at the back, and up front we were very aggressive,” said Zabaleta, an FA Cup winner with City in 2011, when they beat Stoke.
“The Stoke crowd push the team a lot and we knew it was going to be difficult for us. We want to win the FA Cup again,” he added.
The fourth round had opened with an upset on Friday when Villa, beaten by fourth-tier Bradford City in the League Cup semi-finals, lost 2-1 at Championship club Millwall.