Manchester United in the hands of the wolves in a stalemate of the FA Cup, Manchester City cruise
LONDON: Manchester United was forced to settle for a 0-0 draw at Wolves in the FA Cup third round, while Manchester City starters began their attempt to retain the trophy with a 4-1 victory against Port Vale on Saturday.
The problematic side of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did not achieve a single target shot on the last of a growing list of disappointing screens.
Easily defeated by Arsenal in the Premier League on Wednesday, United again struggled to find momentum and now faces an unwanted replay at Old Trafford in late January.
Solskjaer made seven changes at Molineux with the first leg of the League Cup semifinals against Manchester City coming on Tuesday.
Knocked out by Wolves in the FA Cup quarter-finals last season, disjointed United nearly fell behind when Matt Doherty's volley was superbly turned away by Sergio Romero.
Well done! Keep pressing 👊🏾 https://t.co/Gytelvo91W - Fernandinho (@fernandinho) 1578166701000
Brandon Williams had a strong penalty appeal rejected by VAR after United's left back fell after a challenge with Leander Dendoncker.
The United Marcus Rashford substitute hit the bar with his first touch, but Wolves almost won it in the final moments when Raul Jimenez crashed into a post, leaving Solskjaer's men with only two wins in his last five games.
In the Etihad stadium, the head of the city, Pep Guardiola, made seven changes, but Oleksandr Zinchenko started the scoring against Vale, in the fourth level, after 20 minutes.
Port Vale striker Tom Pope had memorably mocked John Stones last year, claiming he would love to play against him after being disappointed by the City defender's performance during an England game.
PEP 💬 We are in the next round of #FACup after an incredible amount of games. We play seriously. First half w ... https://t.co/OviP3XJ8Ks - Manchester City (@ManCity) 1578167654000
And with Stones returning to City after a month's leave due to a hamstring injury, Pope, 34, backed up his teasing on social media by matching with a header in the 35th minute.
Sergio Agüero restored order when he shot City again with his 15th goal of the season three minutes before the break.
Harwood-Bellis sealed the victory of the Stones movie in the 58th minute and Phil Foden won the fourth in the 76th minute.
Aston Villa and Brighton suffered embarrassing outings when the Premier League clubs paid the price for making a series of team changes.
Villa languishes just above the relegation zone after a difficult first season in the top category and Chief Dean Smith prioritized that survival battle with nine changes against Fulham's second level.
Anthony Knockaert gave Fulham the lead at Craven Cottage with a 54-minute curling iron when the former Brighton striker got his first goal since September.
Anwar El Ghazi equaled Villa in the 63rd minute, but the substitutes could not take it since Harry Arter won it with a 30-yard beam with 16 minutes remaining.
Midfielder Arter had only been on the field for a minute and 45 seconds before scoring his first goal since November 2017.
The game was won by two wonderful goals, Smith said. I don't like losing in any competition, but everyone could see that this was not the first thing on our priority list, because we had injuries to three key players.
Brighton suffered the same fate as Villa, as Albion's boss, Graham Potter, made seven changes since his New Year's Day draw against Chelsea and on Wednesday, second-level Sheffield took advantage with a 1-0 win at the Amex Stadium
Adam Reach threw on Wednesday to the fourth round with a long-range blow deflected in the 65th minute.
Thanks to Sheffield Wednesday, they deserve to pass. We snort and snort but our performance in the second half was disappointing. We need to do better, Potter said.
Watford wasted a three-goal lead in a dramatic 3-3 draw against third-level fighters Tranmere, while Newcastle had a 1-1 draw by Rochdale League One minnows.
Leicester advanced with a 2-0 victory against Wigan thanks to Tom Pearce's own goal at goal and Harvey Barnes's knock at King Power Stadium.
The choice of ties on Sunday makes Liverpool face the rivals of Merseyside Everton in Anfield, while Arsenal receives Leeds on Monday.