Man Utd held by Wolves in a FA Cup stalemate, Man City cruise
London, January 5 (AFP) Spluttering Manchester United was forced to settle for a sad 0-0 draw at Wolves in the third round of the FA Cup, while Manchester City starters began their attempt to retain the trophy with a victory 4-1 against Port Vale.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's problematic side on Saturday failed to hit a single target in a domestic game for the first time in five years.
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.
Defending the latest in a growing list of disappointing exhibits, Solskjaer said: I am happier to be in repetition than to go out. It is a fair result that we both continue in the cup.
It is a hard place to find. They had opportunities. Sergio Romero made great saves. Press David de Gea and that's what we want. We want the best players in the world here.
Solskjaer made seven changes at Molineux with the first leg of the League Cup semifinals against Manchester City coming on Tuesday.
Knocked out by the Wolves in the quarterfinals of the FA Cup last season, the disjointed United almost fell behind when Romero magnificently rejected Matt Doherty's volley.
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.
And with Stones returning to City after a month's leave due to a hamstring injury, the 34-year-old pope backed 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.
Taylor Harwood-Bellis sealed the victory of the Stones movie in the 58th minute and Phil Foden won the fourth in the 76th minute.
We are in the next round after an incredible amount of games. We play seriously. The first half had some problems, but the second half was better, Guardiola said.
- Villa, Brighton crashed -
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 in the 2-1 loss in the second Fulham level.
Anthony Knockaert gave Fulham the lead 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.
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 chief Graham Potter made seven changes since his draw on New Year's Day against Chelsea and Sheffield Wednesday took advantage Wednesday with a 1-0 victory at Amex Stadium
Adam Reach threw on Wednesday to the fourth round with a long-range blow deflected in the 65th minute.
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. AFP SSC SSC