Fernando Torres scored three goals on Tuesday to lead Liverpool to a 4-2 English League Cup win at Reading, while Arsenal also reached the fourth round with a 2-0 win over Newcastle.
Manchester City, Portsmouth, Sheffield United, Cardiff, Luton and Blackpool were the other teams to advance in England’s second-tier cup competition.
Six-time winner Liverpool had stuttered after a strong start to the season, drawing its past three games, but manager Rafa Benitez’s decision to recall Spain striker Torres proved crucial.
American midfielder Bobby Convey scored his first goal for Reading since recovering from a serious knee injury to equalise after Yossi Benayoun had put Liverpool ahead midway through the first half.
Torres scored in the 50th minute and John Halls made it 2-2, but Torres scored again in the 72nd and then rounded goalkeeper Adam Federici before tallying in the 86th to clinch the victory.
”In Spain, we know that he can kill defenders,” Benitez said. ”You need to learn that if you work hard, you will have a chance.”
Arsenal, last year’s runner-up, rested several first-team regulars but still eased past Newcastle with two goals in the last eight minutes.
Striker Niklas Bendtner had just volleyed wide before he put the Gunners ahead in the 83rd with a header from Armand Traore’s left-wing cross.
Brazilian midfielder Denilson, who starred in last season’s semifinal win over Tottenham, sealed victory when he hit a 20m shot with a minute to go.
Manchester City manager Sven-Goran Eriksson made nine changes for his team’s home match with Norwich and had to wait until the 90th minute for a goal. Greek striker Georgios Samaras scored for the first time since January.
Cardiff struck four times in the first 30 minutes at West Brom to win 4-2, with former Liverpool and England striker Robbie Fowler scoring twice for the Bluebirds.
Portsmouth won 1-0 at Burnley with a goal by David Nugent, while Sheffield United beat Morecambe of League Two 5-0.
Luton rallied to beat visiting Charlton 3-1 in extra time after a 1-1 draw over 90 minutes, and Blackpool scored in extra time to beat Southend 2-1.
Defending champion Chelsea and Premier League title holder Manchester United enter the competition on Wednesday, when another eight games are played.
Chelsea is at Hull City, while United hosts Coventry. – Sapa-AP