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Monday, Jan. 9, 2012
Swindon stuns Wigan in F.A. Cup third round
LONDON — If Blackburn and Wigan were hoping for some respite in the F.A. Cup amid their miserable campaigns in the English Premier League, they were to be sorely mistaken.
The topflight's two bottom teams were the big casualties as world soccer's oldest knockout competition threw up a typically mixed bag of results in the third round on Saturday.
Argentine midfielder Jonas Gutierrez scored the winner in the fifth minute of stoppage time as Newcastle snatched a 2-1 victory over Blackburn in one of the round's two all-Premier League matches.
In the day's biggest giant-killing act, fourth-tier Swindon — managed by former West Ham forward Paolo Di Canio — rallied to beat Wigan 2-1 at the County Ground.
"My lads deserve something from the club — maybe just a small plaque with all their names because they did something special," Di Canio said.
It wasn't all plain sailing for the rest of the Premier League teams either.
Queens Park Rangers required a last-minute equalizer by Heidar Helguson to secure a 1-1 draw and a replay against third-tier MK Dons while David Wheater's 77th-minute header earned Bolton a 2-2 draw at Macclesfield, which plays in England's fourth division.
Tottenham, which is third in the Premier League, avoided what would have been the mightiest upset by easing past fourth-tier Cheltenham 3-0 thanks to goals by attacking trio Jermain Defoe, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Giovani dos Santos.
Some of the famous romance of the cup was lost as Tamworth, Fleetwood and Salisbury were all defeated, which ensures that there won't be any non-league teams in the fourth-round draw.
Everton beat Tamworth 2-0 after goals by defenders Johnny Heitinga and Leighton Baines while fellow fifth-tier team Fleetwood was thrashed 5-1 at home by northwest rival Blackpool.
Salisbury, which at 17th in the sixth-tier Conference South was the lowest-ranked club left in the competition, was defeated 3-1 at Sheffield United.
United States midfielder Clint Dempsey scored a hat trick in Fulham's 4-0 home win over Charlton, Ireland striker Simon Cox did the same for West Bromwich Albion in a 4-2 win at Cardiff City while Premier League teams Aston Villa, Stoke and Norwich also progressed.
Liverpool beat Oldham 5-1 on Friday, with the match of the round coming on Sunday when Manchester City and Manchester United — the Premier League's top two teams — meeting in a derby at Etihad Stadium.
Scholes back in action
MANCHESTER ENGLAND — Paul Scholes is coming out of retirement to rejoin Manchester United for the rest of season, starting Sunday in the F.A. Cup against Manchester City.
The 37-year-old midfielder quit soccer at the end of last season but has remained at Old Trafford as a coach.
United says Scholes approached manager Alex Ferguson to reverse his decision and would be on the bench at Man City on Sunday.
Scholes says it's been "pretty clear since I stopped playing that I miss it."
He added: "I'm delighted the manager feels I can still make a contribution to the team and I'm looking forward to playing my part in trying to bring more success to this great club."
Ferguson says "it's fantastic that Paul has made this decision."