In a tournament that over the past few years has produced some major upsets, this year’s Carling Cup 3rd round hasn’t fuelled any upsets to enter into the history books. There were plenty of potential banana skins but none materialised as the top sides advanced to the next round in a tournament that is becoming more and more competitive as the race for silverware continues.
There were six games in Wednesday’s third round and Liverpool survived yet another cup upset as they won 2-1 at Brighton. Kenny Dalglish has shown his intent with his team selection’s in the opening two rounds of the tournament and his experienced side delivered at the fantastic Amex Stadium. Their win didn’t come easily though and the Reds had to work for it as an impressive Brighton side managed by Gus Poyet played some stunning football at times and tested the Liverpool rear guard. Craig Bellamy scored his first goal for the club since his return inside ten minutes before Dirk Kuyt seemed to have sealed the victory with ten minutes left on the clock. Former Valencia winger Vicente came on to make his Seagulls debut and won a penalty with a few minutes to go which Ashley Barnes smashed past Reina. The Reds hung on and advanced, Steven Gerrard also made an appearance in the second half which will boost Liverpool following two successive League defeats.
A much changed Chelsea side were forced into extra time by near neighbours Fulham before the Blues won 4-3 on penalties with Bryan Ruiz missing the vital penalty but it wasn’t without controversy after his spot kick was adjudged not to have crossed the line after it hit the bar. Andre Villas-Boas rung the changes and it showed as the Blues couldn’t break down Martin Jol’s resilient defence. By no means was it a full strength Fulham side and they put in a fantastic performance to frustrate the home side. The game swung just after the break when Alex fouled Patjin Kasami and the Brazilian defender was shown a red card. Fortunately for Chelsea Kasami couldn’t convert the spot kick as sub ‘keeper Ross Turnbull denied the young Macedonian.
The holders Birmingham City were knocked out at the hands of Man City. Owen Hargreaves made his City debut and capped it with a fine goal, his first since scoring for United back in 2007 against Arsenal. Birmingham did have their chances before Mario Balotelli got his first of the season before the interval. That is how it finished at Eastlands, City 2-0 Birmingham.
In the all Championship clash in Wales, Cardiff and Leicester played out an entertaining 2-2 draw before the home side came out on top in a nail bitting penalty shoot out. They eventually won 7-6 on spot kicks to advance. Don Cowie put the hosts into a first half lead but veteran Steve Howard levelled the game just before the interval. Lloyd Dyer looked to have booked the Foxes’ place in the next round but Rudy Gestede sent the tie into extra time with eight minutes left.
Southampton continued their fine start to the season with a win over League One side Preston North End at St. Marys. Jos Hooiveld put the Saints into the lead but North End hit back after the break thanks to Adam Barton. Substitute Adam Lallana ensured his sides’ progress. It finished 2-1 to Southampton.
Everton came back from goal down to advance to the next round with a 2-1 win over West Brom. Goals from Felliani and Phil Neville sent the Merseyside club through to Saturday’s draw.
The Toffee’s woes looked to be continuing before Maroune Felliani’s 88th minute equaliser at Goodison Park. West Brom looked to be marching on after Chris Brunt converted a penalty just before the hour mark but the big Belgium popped up with just minutes to go to send the game into an extra thirty minutes. Phil Neville had scored just four goals for Everton in over 200 appearances but he linked with Royston Drenthe to bag his fifth goal and send his side through.
The draw for the fourth round is on Saturday at midday and all the top sides are safely through, it will be a very competitive Carling Cup this year.
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