Leeds United on Sunday suffered a humiliating FA Cup exit against Crawley Town as the League Two side swept to a stunning 3-0 win, while eighth-tier Marine’s hopes of causing the competition’s greatest shock were crushed in a 5-0 defeat against Tottenham Hotspur.
After the spiking COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc with matches across the third round on Friday and Saturday, the FA Cup was back on more familiar ground on Sunday as Leeds became the competition’s latest big name to be knocked out by feisty underdogs.
While Marine’s romantic adventure was cut short by a Carlos Vinicius hat-trick, and Chelsea and Manchester City progressed to the fourth round with ease, Crawley’s unexpected success encapsulated the FA Cup’s unique charm at a time when soccer is badly in need of some positive news.
Numerous clubs have been hit by COVID-19 problems as the new variant sweeps across the UK, forcing Aston Villa and Derby County to field teams of youth players for third-round defeats against Liverpool and non-league Chorley respectively.
Despite calls for the season to be halted, the FA Cup continued and Crawley relished their chance to steal the spotlight.
Leeds are 12th in the English Premier League after a fine first season back in the top flight, but coach Marcelo Bielsa paid the price for making seven changes at The People’s Pension Stadium.
On a fairy-tale day for Crawley, it was fitting that Nick Tsaroulla should open the scoring with his first career goal in the 51st minute.
Ashley Nadesan’s low shot crept under Kiko Casilla to double Crawley’s lead two minutes later and Jordan Tunnicliffe wrapped up the victory after 70 minutes.
“These players have got a lot to prove to the clubs who have released them and we’ve showed what we can do against a really good side,” Crawley coach John Yems said.
Rubbing salt into Leeds’ wounds, Crawley handed a debut to former reality TV star Mark Wright as a late substitute.
How much Bielsa knew about Wright is in doubt, but he said that he was not surprised by Crawley’s display.
“It’s not a question of surprise. We knew the characteristics of their players. We had the ball for a long period of time, but we couldn’t do much with it,” Bielsa said.
Marine, of the Northern Premier League Division One North West, were trying to bridge the biggest gap — 161 places — between opponents in FA Cup history.
Marine’s squad is comprised of teachers, health workers, refuse collectors and factory workers, with their tiny stadium in Crosby providing a surreal setting for the visit of Jose Mourinho’s stars.
Appropriately for a match against a team named after a local pub, pandemic restrictions meant that Spurs had to change in a stadium function room with a bar.
Marine’s ground is lined on one side by houses, so a few lucky locals were able to watch for free as Neil Kengni almost gave Marine the lead when his long-range drive cannoned off the bar.
Tottenham, without Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, took control thanks to two close-range finishes by Vinicius within six minutes.
Lucas Moura struck with a fine free-kick in the 32nd minute and Vinicius completed his hat-trick five minutes later.
Alfie Devine enjoyed a debut to remember when the substitute fired home in the 60th minute, making him Tottenham’s youngest ever scorer at 16 years and 163 days.
“The boys were professionals and didn’t stop until the game was over. The attitude means a lot for me, and also for the competition and to Marine’s guys, because they felt we played seriously,” Mourinho said.
Chelsea, FA Cup runners-up last season, thrashed League Two Morecambe 4-0.
Mason Mount marked his 22nd birthday with a long-range goal and, after 12 blank games, Timo Werner finally got on the score sheet in the 44th minute.
Callum Hudson-Odoi and Kai Havertz netted in the second half.
Manchester City cruised to a 3-0 win against second-tier Birmingham City at the Etihad Stadium, with two goals from Bernardo Silva and one from Phil Foden.
Barnsley defeated Tranmere Rovers 2-0, Bristol City edged Portsmouth 2-1 and Cheltenham Town saw off Mansfield Town by the same score.
Brighton & Hove Albion needed penalties to see off League Two Newport County after both sides scored in stoppage-time in a 1-1 draw.
Solly March’s opener for the Premier League side was canceled out by Adam Webster’s own-goal, but after no further goals in extra-time, Webster made amends with the winning spot-kick.
SWEEP THE LEG: Poirier, determined to best McGregor, after losing to him in 2014, used low calf kicks to throw ‘Notorious’ off his stand-up game, before dropping him American underdog Dustin Poirier yesterday shook up the world of mixed martial arts, beating up the legs of Irish superstar Conor McGregor before knocking him out at UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi. “I’m happy, but I’m not surprised. I put in the work,” Poirier said, after the referee stepped in after 2 minutes, 32 seconds of the second round to save McGregor from further damage, after he was dropped by a fierce combination of punches. The 32-year-old Poirier was ranked second in the flyweight division going into the fight, but still rated a heavy underdog by bookmakers to beat his fourth-ranked opponent,
LOOKING TO REPEAT: World No. 7 Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin advanced to the round-of-16 at the Toyota Thailand Open, after winning the Yonex Thailand Open on Sunday Taiwan’s world No. 7 duo yesterday eased past the US’ world No. 37 pairing at the Toyota Thailand Open to reach the round-of-16 in Bangkok. Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin beat Phillip Chew and Ryan Chew 21-14, 21-11 in just 24 minutes. Lee and Wang, who won the men’s doubles title at the Yonex Thailand Open on Sunday, next face the world No. 34 pairing, Canada’s Jason Anthony Ho-Shue and Nyl Yakura. In men’s singles, Taiwan’s world No. 2 Chou Tien-chen again beat Thailand’s world No. 45 Suppanyu Avihingsanon, after edging past the Thai player in the opening round of the Yonex
HOLDING STEADY: Taiwan’s Tai Tzu-ying pushed past Indonesia’s Gregoria Mariska Tunjung to advance to a quarter-finals match against world No. 10 Michelle Li Taiwan’s Chou Tien-chen and Wang Tzu-wei yesterday defeated their respective opponents in the second round of the Toyota Thailand Open, setting them up to face each other today in the quarter-finals. In an early match, world No. 12 Wang took 45 minutes to defeat Hong Kong’s Angus Ng Ka-long 21-13, 21-11. Last week, the world No. 8 ousted Wang from the Yonex tournament before defeating Chou in the semi-finals. Chou, world No. 2, defeated France’s Brice Leverdez in 48 minutes 21-19, 21-16. In other men’s singles matches, Indonesia’s fifth seed Anthony Ginting suffered an unexpected defeat to Hong Kong’s Lee Cheuk-yiu, who moved into
MARIN REMATCH: Tai Tzu-ying saved six game points in her semi-final against Ratchanok Intanon, who went into the match with a superior head-to-head record Taiwan’s Tai Tzu-ying reached the final of badminton’s Thailand Open yesterday with a three-set win over Ratchanok Intanon, setting up a rematch against Carolina Marin. Tai won 12-21, 21-12, 23-21 in 59 minutes to set up her second final against Marin in two weeks, while Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin advanced to the final in the men’s doubles. However, Chou Tien-chen was eliminated in the semi-finals of the men’s singles. Tai saved six game points in the win against her Thai opponent Intanon, who went into the match with a superior head-to-head record against the Taiwanese world No. 1. Tai’s best streak was a