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07 Jan 2008 11:35
A second-string Arsenal side proved strong enough to secure a 2-0 victory at Championship (second division) club Burnley on Sunday and with it a place in Monday’s FA Cup fourth-round draw.
The Premier League leaders won with goals by Eduardo da Silva and Nicklas Bendtner, but four other top-flight sides were held by lower league opposition to follow the four others who were upset on Saturday.
Liverpool drew 1-1 at third division Luton Town and Newcastle United were goalless at Stoke City, while Derby County and Fulham both had to come from behind to draw 2-2 with Sheffield Wednesday and Bristol Rovers respectively.
At Turf Moor, Arsenal’s unfamiliar line-up had an early scare when Kyle Lafferty hit the bar with a header after five minutes.
However, they went ahead four minutes later with a typically cool finish by Eduardo for his 11th goal of the season and, after Lafferty was sent off for a bad tackle on Gilberto Silva on the hour, Arsenal settled it through Bendtner 15 minutes from time.
“They gave us a real game; they missed that header and we took our first chance,” Arsene Wenger told the BBC.
Newcastle travelled to Stoke out of form and there was little in their performance that will have lifted the pressure from manager Sam Allardyce.
The latest return of Michael Owen failed to add a spark to their attack and Stoke, going well in fourth place in the Championship, were the more dangerous side and went closest to winning it when substitute Jon Parkin had an effort blocked on the line in the 66th minute.
It was rip-roaring stuff at Luton, even if the goal count did not match Liverpool’s 5-3 win at the same stage two years ago.
Liverpool looked short of confidence and were hanging on somewhat before a defensive blunder allowed Peter Crouch to tuck in the opener after 74 minutes.
The lead lasted only three minutes, though, as John-Arne Riise put the ball into his own net to earn a desperately needed replay for Luton, who have barely had enough money to pay their players in recent weeks after going into administration.
“That has certainly helped keep the club alive,” said manager Kevin Blackwell.
Luton were one of four teams from the lower half of the third division who played Premier League opposition over the weekend and none of them lost.
On Saturday, Oldham upset Everton 1-0 and Huddersfield beat Birmingham City 1-0 while on Sunday Bristol Rovers led twice at Fulham through Danny Coles and Craig Hinton before David Healy and Danny Murphy made it 2-2.—Reuters
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