Liverpool beat Mansfield 2-1 to reach the fourth round of English soccer’s F.A. Cup yesterday after Luis Suarez handled the ball in scoring. Danny Graham got a late goal to earn Swansea a 2-2 tie against Arsenal.
Daniel Sturridge also scored on his debut for seven-time champion Liverpool as it won at its fifth-tier opponent to set up a match against Oldham.
“I’ve just seen it again and there’s no doubt it was handball but the referee and the officials ruled it wasn’t deliberate,” Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers told reporters. “It was unfortunate for Mansfield and lucky for us that we got the goal. It was a really professional performance.”
At Swansea’s Liberty Stadium, the Gunners appeared set to advance after strikes from Lukas Podolski and Kieran Gibbs, before Graham fired the ball into the net from close range. Michu had put the home team ahead on 58 minutes.
The teams will now need to replay at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium. The winner faces a trip to Brighton in the fourth round.
“The last thing I want is to lose a game,” Swansea manager Michael Laudrup told reporters. “A replay isn’t exactly what I was looking forward to, especially with the games we have coming up.”
Swansea had the best of a goalless first half. Graham tested goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny with a 25-yard shot after 13 minutes that required a diving save, and 10 minutes before the interval Kyle Bartley headed against the bar from a Jonathan de Guzman free kick.
Santi Cazorla fired Arsenal’s best attempt over the bar moments before Bartley’s header.
Arsenal, winner of the F.A. Cup 10 times, started stronger in the second half and Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm was forced into two early saves. After 51 minutes he stopped a low shot from Olivier Giroud with his feet, then two minutes later denied the French striker’s volleyed effort.
The hosts made two substitutions soon after, including the introduction of top-scorer Michu. The Spaniard was on the field for less than two minutes before scoring his 15th goal of the season.
Michu lifted the ball over Per Mertesacker, controlled it and shot low into the bottom corner. He’s now scored three times in two games against the Gunners after a double in the league at the Emirates last month.
Arsenal pushed forward, with Theo Walcott flashing a low shot across the goal on 75 minutes. Second-half substitute Podolski then put the visitors level six minutes later when he turned and fired past Vorm.
Two minutes later the Gunners were ahead, full-back Gibbs volleying into the net for his first goal in 10 months.
Swansea responded from a corner kick that was flicked on in the penalty area and Graham was on hand to score. There was still a chance for Arsenal to regain its lead in injury time, but Vorm blocked a header from Laurent Koscielny.
“We should have won the game,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told reporters. He said he didn’t want a replay, but “if that’s the choice between going out or staying in the hat, I take the replay.”
Liverpool was ahead after only seven minutes at Field Mill, Sturridge hitting a low shot into the far corner after collecting a pass from Jonjo Shelvey.
Seven minutes later the former Manchester City and Chelsea striker should have doubled the advantage with only goalkeeper Alan Marriott to beat, but his effort was saved.
Mansfield’s Matt Green then had an effort saved by Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Jones as the home team fought back. Sturridge was denied again by Marriott before halftime.
After a period of Mansfield pressure in the second half, Suarez finished off a move for Liverpool to give his team a two- goal lead. Television pictures showed that the Uruguayan used his hand to control the ball.
Green replied on 79 minutes with a powerful strike and almost earned a replay with a 25-yard effort in injury time that Jones turned wide.
“I’d like to give the benefit of the doubt and say it was a reaction,” Mansfield manager Paul Cox said of Suarez’s goal. “He’s a goalscorer and I think goalscorers put the ball in the net anyway. If it had gone in the other end and one of our players had done it I think we’d have accepted it.”
Among winners in matches two days ago, defending champion Chelsea beat Southampton 5-1, and Brighton upset Newcastle 2-0. Manchester United tied 2-2 at West Ham on an injury-time goal from Robin van Persie.
Luton and Macclesfield, which play in the fifth tier, upset Championship teams to move into the fourth round.
Today, Cheltenham Town from the fourth-tier League Two hosts Everton.
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