Second-tier Watford were half an hour away from a seismic FA Cup shock at Manchester City, yesterday, before Sergio Aguero ruined the script with a hat-trick as his side stormed back to reach the last 16 with a 4-2 win.
Only European champions Bayern Munich had returned victorious from City’s Etihad Stadium fortress this season but goals by Fernando Forestieri and Troy Deeney had the Watford fans dreaming of a famous result. The London side were still leading 2-0 after an hour but eventually succumbed to the siege as Aguero cancelled out the deficit, Aleksandar Kolarov put City ahead three minutes from time and their Argentina striker completed a treble to maintain Manuel Pellegrini’s side’s four-pronged assault on silverware.
Liverpool had no such problems as they reached the last 16 with a 2-0 win at second tier Bournemouth, Victor Moses and Daniel Sturridge scoring for the seven-times winners who were made to work hard on the south coast. Moses opened the scoring after 26 minutes and Sturridge linked with Luis Suarez on the hour to ease Liverpool through and make sure there was no repeat of last season’s humbling defeat to third tier Oldham Athletic.
Kidderminster, the only survivors from outside England’s top four divisions, battled valiantly at League Cup finalists Sunderland but slipped out 1-0 while fourth tier Southend United were beaten 2-0 at home by Premier League Hull City.
League One Sheffield United, who face Premier League Fulham today, are now the only side not in the top two divisions still in the competition after Everton crushed Stevenage 4-0 in yesterday’s late kickoff.
Holders Wigan Athletic, who were relegated to the Championship after beating Manchester City in last year’s final, kept alive their hopes of an unlikely successful defence of the trophy with a 2-1 win over top flight Crystal Palace. Apart from Palace’s exit there were no other surprises with Wilfried Bony’s double helping Swansea City triumph 2-1 at Birmingham City, Cardiff City winning 1-0 at Bolton Wanderers and Southampton easing past second-tier side Yeovil Town 2-0.
Championship sides Brighton and Hove Albion and Charlton Athletic are also in today’s fifth round draw, as are three-times winners Sheffield Wednesday who ended the hopes of fourth-tier Rochdale, winning 2-1 away despite finishing with 10 men.
Chelsea host Stoke City today, while Premier League leaders Arsenal progressed on Friday with a 4-0 victory over Coventry City at The Emirates.