FA Cup classics: 5 thrilling third-round ties you may not remember
Liverpool's comeback at Luton and Exeter's Old Trafford rearguard feature among our favourite last-64 matches.
Luton Town 3-5 Liverpool, 2006
Whatever you look for from your football, this game had it.
After the 53 minutes, there was more than a sniff of an upset as Kevin Nicholls beat Scott Carson from the penalty spot to put Luton 3-1 up against European champions Liverpool, after the visitors had missed a spot kick of their own through Djibril Cisse.
It then featured a roaring comeback from the Reds, who – inspired by Florent Sinama Pongolle’s brace – scored three times in 12 minutes to lead 4-3.
There was also an iconic FA Cup strike, Xabi Alonso scoring from inside his own half after Luton ‘keeper Marlon Beresford went forward for a late corner.
And if you like watching famous people look silly on the telly, you’ll have enjoyed Steven Gerrard slipping over halfway through his post-match interview live on the BBC, too.
Aston Villa 2-3 Manchester United, 2002
Another madcap evening game, this time at Villa Park.
Manchester United were the favourites, having won their previous six, but Villa’s attacking approach opened up cracks in their backline.
And that vulnerability was exposed when Phil Neville cushioned a header past his own ‘keeper, Roy Carroll, to put Villa two goals up after 53 minutes.
But you could rarely sit comfortably against Sir Alex Ferguson’s United, and when the Scot subbed the sub, Luke Chadwick, and introduced Ruud van Nistelrooy, the game changed.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fired past United legend Peter Schmeichel to put the visitors back into the game in the 77th minute, before the Dutchman struck twice in the 80th and 82nd, completing a rapid five-minute turnaround.
United fans stormed the pitch to celebrate, defining a helter-skelter match and an era in which the FA Cup was a genuine priority.
Manchester United 0-0 Exeter City, 2005
Gerard Pique, Paul Scholes, Cristiano Ronaldo. Your boys took one hell of a beating.
Well, you were held to a goalless home draw by non-league Exeter.
The Grecians pulled off one of the great – and most underrated, presumably because they didn’t actually win – cup upsets, stifling Ferguson’s United, who would go on to reach the final.
That a non-league team has beaten top-tier opposition away from home in the FA Cup just once since 1986 – Luton at Norwich in 2013 – sums up the excellence of this result.
Scholes and Ronaldo, admittedly, were only introduced in the second half, but Alex Inglethorpe’s side were still forced to ride a storm including 15 goal attempts.
Ferguson learned from his experience in the replay, fielding Scholes, Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney from the start in a 2-0 win at St James’ Park.
And the TV companies were taught a lesson, too – between them, they have not failed to broadcast one of United’s subsequent 54 FA Cup matches.
Havant & Waterlooville 4-2 Swansea City, 2008
Another non-league epic that goes under the radar.
Havant & Waterlooville are remembered best for leading twice at Liverpool before losing 5-2 in the fourth round of the FA Cup in 2008, but this win must rank as their best result of that run.
Swansea, who would win League One comfortably, fielded current players Angel Rangel and Leon Britton in this replay, but still found themselves 3-0 down within 40 minutes.
In the knowledge that a victory would be rewarded with a trip to Merseyside, the Conference South side withstood the threat of a comeback, responding to Swansea’s two goals with a fourth of their own through Tom Jordan – son of former Scotland striker, Joe.
And the Hampshire side held on to secure themselves the biggest day out in their history and all that it entailed, including a standing ovation from the Anfield faithful.
West Ham United 2-2 Everton, 2015
Another replay, but how can you avoid a ding-dong cup tie that results in a goalkeeper scoring the winning penalty.
Cup matches between teams in the same division often fail to ignite much enthusiasm, but West Ham and Everton defied convention with another tie that ticked every box.
A goal and a man up after 80 minutes, the Hammers must have thought they were virtually through, but the brilliance of Kevin Mirallas prompted a 180-degree turn.
The Belgian’s free-kick took the tie to extra time, before he superbly squirmed into the box and presented a tap-in for Romelu Lukaku to give the visitors the lead.
Carlton Cole scrambled home an equaliser, though, before the two exhausted sides embarked on a length penalty shoot-out.
At 8-8, the match was decided by the ‘keepers.
Joel Robles missed for the Toffees, and Adrian – dispensing of his gloves as he approached the ball – swept home to send Sam Allardyce’s side through to play Bristol City.