Luton Town make history with 1-0 Cup victory over Norwich
Man United, Arsenal and Everton among top clubs who could face these giant-killers next
Luton Town pulled off one of the biggest giant-killings in FA Cup history yesterday when they knocked out Premier League Norwich 1-0 at Carrow Road. It was the first time a non-league side had slain a top-flight club in the Cup since Sutton United humbled Coventry in 1989.
The Hatters, who play in the Blue Square Bet Premier division, progressed into the fifth round courtesy of Scott Rendell's strike ten minutes from time.
They may have have fallen on hard times since beating Arsenal 3-2 to win the 1988 League Cup final, but having seen off Championship side Wolves in the previous round, no club will fancy drawing them in the fifth round.
"It's a lot to take in,” admitted Luton Town manager Paul Buckle later. “You need great belief and we had that today. We trained really hard for this game and it paid off. If there's one thing about today that I want the players to take away, it’s belief. Belief that they can achieve something special."
Norwich’s form has slipped since Christmas and manager Chris Hughton had no excuses after the humiliation. "It's hurting, and it will hurt for a while,” he said. "It was a really poor goal for us to concede, but we have got to give them credit. They worked hard and had some luck at times, but when you put all those factors together then anything can happen."
Arsenal had to be at their best against Brighton as the home side twice came from behind to draw level with their Premier League visitors. Olivier Giroud opened Arsenal’s account on 16 minutes with a sweet strike from the edge of the box, but the Seagulls then equalised when Ashley Barnes capitalised on hesitant goalkeeping from Wojciech Szczesny.
Giroud restored Arsenal’s lead on 56 minutes, deftly controlling Abou Diaby’s through pass before firing past Casper Ankergren, but six minutes later it was 2-2 as Leonardo Ulloa headed home for Brighton.
Arsene Wenger threw on Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere is a desperate bid to avoid a replay and his switch bore fruit five minutes from time when Walcott’s shot was deflected into the hosts’ net for the winning goal.
"It was a very good game,” said a relieved Wenger. “It shows you have to be mentally strong in football and we had to dig deep to win the game.”
The Arsenal boss had warm words for Giroud, who’s now scored 14 goals for the club since his summer move from Montpellier. “He has scored four goals this week and that will give him confidence from the slow start he had," said Wenger. "He is getting stronger, he's a fighter.”
Ryan Giggs is also a fighter and the veteran winger scored Manchester United’s first goal in their 4-1 thrashing of Fulham. The 39-year-old Giggs put his side one up from the penalty spot after just three minutes following a handball from Aaron Hughes.
Though Hughes scored late on for Fulham, by that time a goal from Wayne Rooney and a brace from Javier Hernandez has ensured United’s passage into this evening's fifth round draw. “The FA Cup is an important trophy for us this season,” said Alex Ferguson. “We haven't won it for 10 years… so we need to do something about that.”
Manchester City, who won the FA Cup in 2011, have also made it through to the next round after a 1-0 win away at Stoke. Pablo Zabaleta scored the only goal of the game five minutes from time to leave City’ assistant manager David Platt a happy man. “The pleasing thing is we battled hard, defended well and kept another clean sheet,” said Platt. “It is pleasing from that perspective and it is also pleasing to go through.”
In other notable results, Everton needed an injury-time goal from Johnny Heitinga to beat Bolton 2-1, while Wigan also laboured to a 1-0 win away at Macclesfield. No such problems for Reading, who brushed aside Sheffield United 4-0, but their fellow Premier League strugglers [B] QPR had a miserable afternoon against the MK Dons.
Rangers were beaten 4-2 and manager Harry Redknapp didn’t spare his players. “We gave two diabolical goals away. Terrible, sloppy defending and suddenly you find yourself 2-0 down,” he fumed. “It tells me, like I've said all along, that I need to improve the squad."