Leeds suffered a humiliating FA Cup exit against Crawley as the League Two side swept to a shock 3-0 win, while Timo Werner ended his Chelsea goal drought and Bernardo Silva sparkled for Manchester City as the Premier League giants eased into the fourth round on Sunday.
After the spiking coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc with matches across the third round on Friday and Saturday, the FA Cup was back on more familiar ground as Leeds became the competition’s latest big name to be knocked out by a feisty underdog.
Crawley’s unexpected success encapsulated the FA Cup’s unique charm and football’s restorative powers at a time when the sport is badly in need of some positive news.
Numerous clubs have been hit by Covid-19 problems as the new variant sweeps across Britain, forcing Aston Villa and Derby to field entire teams of youth players while their senior stars went into self-isolation.
Villa’s kids were beaten by Liverpool on Friday and Derby’s youngsters lost to non-league Chorley, with Southampton’s tie against Shrewsbury postponed after a virus outbreak at the League One side.
Despite calls for the English season to be halted while the virus is contained, the FA Cup goes on for now and Crawley relished their chance to steal the spotlight.
Leeds sit 12th in the Premier League after a fine first season back in the top-flight, but boss Marcelo Bielsa paid the price for making seven changes at The People’s Pension Stadium in leafy Sussex.
Crawley, sixth in League Two, had survived an incredible 6-5 win against Torquay in the FA Cup first round, but this victory was even more remarkable.
On a fairytale day for Crawley, it was fitting that Nick Tsaroulla should open the scoring with his first career goal in the 51st minute.
Ashley Nadesan’s low shot crept under Leeds keeper Kiko Casilla’s weak attempt save to double Crawley’s lead two minutes later.
Jordan Tunnicliffe delivered the final blow in the 70th minute, forcing the ball into the roof of the net after Leeds failed to clear a Sam Matthews free-kick.
It is not the first time Leeds have endured FA Cup ignominy after Don Revie’s stars were famously eliminated by Colchester in 1971, while the club’s 2008 side were embarrassed by Histon and the 2017 squad lost to Sutton.