Premier League title contender Tottenham was held to a 0-0 draw in the FA Cup by third-tier side Stevenage today, while Liverpool and Stoke advanced to the quarterfinals with few problems.
Spurs had a goal by Louis Saha ruled out because of offside but were largely frustrated by an organised Stevenage team containing former Tottenham fringe players Chris Day and Ronnie Henry.
Stoke – last season’s runner-up – overcame an early red card to Rory Delap to beat fourth-tier side Crawley 2-0 through a 42nd-minute penalty by Jonathan Walters and a 52nd-minute header from Peter Crouch.
Liverpool warmed up for next weekend’s League Cup final against Cardiff with a 6-1 win over another second-tier side, beating Brighton with the help of three own-goals to join Sunderland, Bolton, Everton and Leicester in the quarterfinals.
Tottenham fielded a strong lineup despite the absence of Luka Modric through illness and seemed to have made the breakthrough when Saha hit a left-wing cross by Danny Rose through a crowd of players and through the net.
But the linesman hoisted his flag to signal that the ball had brushed the offside Scott Parker on its way into the net, and the referee ruled out the goal.
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp stated he hoped the superior pitch at his club’s White Hart Lane stadium would work in the Premier League side’s favor in the replay.
”The pitch was bumpy and the ball was bobbling everywhere,” Redknapp said. “It was difficult to get the ball down and play on that pitch. It was very, very hard.
”This was not a game to get the ball down and play football. We started hitting it long and it was difficult to get that much going. We are still in the cup and are at home now. It gives us a huge chance but I would not underestimate them by any chance.”
The winner of the replay will play Bolton in the next round.
Stoke, which lost 1-0 to Manchester City in last season’s final, will meet Liverpool next.
”It is a great achievement by the football club to have made a third successive quarterfinal appearance,” Stoke manager Tony Pulis said. “We’re one win away from Wembley again.”
Martin Skrtel and an own goal from Liam Bridcutt gave Liverpool a 2-1 halftime lead over a Brighton team coached by former Uruguay and Chelsea midfielder Gus Poyet. Andy Carroll, with a rare goal, just his eighth of the season, a pair of second-half own goals and a late effort by Luis Suarez, who also missed a penalty, wrapped up a comprehensive victory.
Everton will play Sunderland, while the other March 17-18 quarterfinal will be between Leicester and the winner of a replay between Chelsea and second-tier Birmingham.
(Home teams listed first – March 17-18
Chelsea or Birmingham vs. Leicester
Stevenage or Tottenham vs. Bolton
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