The first football weekend of 2013 saw the FA Cup roar back into action with the third round.
The oldest and most prestigious domestic cup competition in the world has lost some of its lustre since the advent of the Champions League in 1992. However, there can be little doubt that players and fans alike still dream about winning the famous cup.
While this weekend saw the beginning of the competition for many fans, the FA Cup actually started all the way back on August 11. A whopping 758 clubs started out on the Road to Wembley in August, and some eight rounds later, we had just 64 as the third round began.
Chelsea began the defence of their title with a tricky game at Southampton in one of four all-Premier League ties, while Arsenal traveled to Swansea, West Brom took on QPR and West Ham welcomed Manchester United.
Elsewhere, Newcastle, without Demba Ba, who was making his debut for Chelsea, went to Brighton, where they were knocked out in the fourth round last season. Spurs took on Coventry in a replay of the famous 1987 final, while Hastings, the lowest-ranked team in the competition, travelled almost the entire length of England to take on Middlesbrough.
Crystal Palace welcomed Stoke City in the most intriguing match of the third round, Bolton took on Sunderland, non-league Macclesfield went into battle with Cardiff City and struggling Premier League side Aston Villa entertained struggling Championship side Ipswich Town.
This is the FA Cup, where rankings and reputations matter not.
As ever, there were a number of standout games, ranging from the all-Premier League ties, some veritable giant-killing missions and our non-league heroes crusading for fame, fortune and a place in football folklore history.
Here, Bleacher Report looks at the FA Cup Third Round.
Read on to find out what happened...
Macclesfield pulled off the shock of the third round and reached the fourth round for the first time in their 139-year history. They beat Championship leaders Cardiff City 2-1 thanks to two late goals from Matthew Barnes-Homer after the visiting side had taken the lead.
Nathaniel Jarvis opened the scoring on his FA Cup debut on the hour mark after Declan John's surging run and cross left him with a tap-in.
Having taken the lead, the Championship side then went in search of a second, but poor finishing combined with good defending by the home side conspired to keep the score down.
Jack Mackreth, brought on just minutes after Jarvis' opening goal, provided an 85th-minute assist for Barnes-Homer to give Macclesfield a chance of entering the fourth-round draw, even if only through a replay.
The last laugh was to go to the Silkmen when Pablo Mills gave away an unexpected 88th-minute penalty for a shirt-pull.
Barnes-Homer stepped up and smashed the penalty home as Cardiff manager Malky Mackay went apoplectic on the sidelines at the referee's decision.
The early kickoff saw Brighton and Hove Albion knock Newcastle United out of FA Cup for the second year running.
The Championship side were well worth their win and dominated the game from start to finish, especially after Shola Ameobi was sent off for receiving a second yellow card. Their cause was aided by Alan Pardew making five changes to his normal Premier League starting XI.
The sending-off came in between Brighton's two goals. The first came from Andrea Orlandi after an hour of action and was one of the best goals of the third round.
Wayne Bridge surged down the left flank and picked up a long pass from fully 50 yards from Gordon Greer and crossed for Orlandi, who flicked the ball up with his left foot and volleyed home with a superb left-footed finish.
Once ahead and growing in confidence, the Seagulls played some superb football and really could and should have put the Magpies to the sword before substitute Will Hoskins sealed the victory with an 87th-minute strike.
Everything started off perfectly at the City Ground as Forest took an early lead through a Matt Smith own-goal.
However, the game took an unexpected twist in the 37th minute when the superb Andy Reid was forced to go off with an injury. As soon as the ex-Irish international left the pitch, Oldham started to push on and congest play in midfield.
Three goals in the space of seven second-half minutes—a double from Robbie Simpson and the other from Jose Baxter—put the game beyond doubt for the League One side. In between those quickfire goals, Forest's problems were compounded by the sending-off of Danny Collins for a professional foul.
Billy Sharp did manage to pull one back for Forest in the fourth minute of injury time, but it was too little, too late as Oldham entered Round 4
Tottenham Hotspur took on Coventry City in a replay of the famous 1987 final. However, the gulf between the third-placed Premier League side and the 11th-placed League One side was huge.
Spurs raced into the lead after Clint Dempsey scored on the quarter-hour mark. Gareth Bale then got in on the action in the 33rd minute with a close-range finish after Dempsey's stinging shot was parried into his path.
Dempsey, enjoying a man-of-the-match performance, then fired in his second just four minutes later when Bale returned the favour to set the American up directly from a corner.
With Spurs 3-0 up before halftime, the second period turned into a procession in which the home side killed the game off and focused upon keeping a clean sheet for their demanding manager.
Demba Ba scored twice on his debut as Chelsea were forced to come from behind by Southampton at St. Mary's Stadium.
The Saints took a shocking early lead through Jay Rodriguez after he was teed up expertly by Jason Puncheon. If anything, the goal stung Chelsea into action and by halftime the struggling Saints were 2-1 down after Ba and Victor Moses had replied in kind.
There was a slight sliver of controversy about Ba's opening goal, as the ball appeared to have crossed the line after a sublime piece of skill by Juan Mata. If there was doubt about Ba's first, there was none about his second and Chelsea's fourth.
Collecting a beautiful pass from Eden Hazard, the ex-Newcastle man controlled the ball with childlike ease and passed it into the bottom corner to finish the game as a contest.
Frank Lampard put the icing on the cake for the defending champions when he fired home an 83rd-minute penalty to become Chelsea's second highest goal-scorer of all time.
Sunderland came back from two goals down to draw at Bolton and force a replay at the Stadium of Light.
Bolton raced into a two-goal lead thanks to goals from Lee Chung-Yong and Marvin Sordell.
Chung-Yong's opener came after one of the worst pieces of defending you are likely to see in the third round. Carlos Cuellar made a cardinal sin when he played the ball across his own 18-yard box with Chung-Yong intercepting and punishing the poor mistake.
Wanderers then went in search of the second and got their just rewards when Marvin Sordell's close-range header doubled the lead just after halftime.
With the game escaping from their grasp and the home side threatening to score a third, the Black Cats forced their way back into the game through Connor Wickham.
The English youth international struck from close range to give Martin O'Neill's side a fighting chance after Andy Lonergan, in the Bolton goal, had threatened to keep the Black Cats blank.
Sunderland pushed for an equaliser in front of an amazing 5,000 travelling fans and got their just rewards when Craig Gardner scored with just 15 minutes to go.
The goal signalled a 10-minute siege of the Bolton goal as Sunderland went in search of the winner, but Wanderers held out and both teams will enter the fourth-round draw.
Non-league Luton Town pulled off the biggest upset of the third round when they beat Wolves 1-0 at Kenilworth Road.
Alex Lawless was the man of the hour when he smashed home Jon Shaw's headed assist following Irish international Kevin Foley's sliced clearance.
Once ahead, the Hatters were more than a match for their Championship foes, who have now lost their last four matches on the trot. Bereft of confidence and creating very little, Wolves were easily subdued by the Conference side, who finished the game out in a professional manner despite having to play over nine minutes of injury time.
Luis Suarez's controversial 59th minute goal was enough to put Liverpool through to the fourth round of the FA Cup over non-league Mansfield Town.
The Uruguayan striker doubled the Reds' lead after debutant Daniel Sturridge opened the scoring with a neat finish in the seventh minute. Despite a late goal for the home side and a sustained period of pressure in the final 10 minutes, Liverpool did just about enough to warrant a place in the last-32.
The match could not have started better for Brendan Rodgers and his on-going project. Jonjo Shelvey's perfectly weighted through-ball set Sturridge clear on goal and the former Chelsea player finished with ease to immediately ingratiate himself with the Liverpool faithful.
With Sturridge gifting the Reds the lead, they would go on to control the first half and at times Mansfield looked completely out of their depth.
However, a stern team talk at halftime by Paul Cox seemed to sting the Stags into action and if anything won the second period on points.
They kept Liverpool under pressure for long periods and if it were not for a string of saves by Brad Jones, deputizing for the resting Pepe Reina, the score may have been different before substitute Suarez put the game beyond doubt.
To their credit, the Stags refused to lie down and when Matt Green pulled one back with 11 minutes to go, the roof was nearly torn off Field Mill such was the atmosphere.
Liverpool withstood the Conference side's inevitable onslaught and will now face Oldham Athletic in the next round.
Middlesbrough 4-1 Hastings United
Any chances Hastings United, the lowest-ranked team in the competition, had of causing an upset at Middlesbrough were dealt an early blow when the wonderfully named Merouane Zemmama scored halfway through the first half.
Andy Halliday doubled the lead just minutes after halftime, and from there, there was simply no way back for the non-league side. Zemmama scored his second of the game after his long-distance shot was deflected into the goal to give Boro an unassailable lead.
Hastings didn't read the script, though, and scored straight from the tip through Bradley Goldburg, who scored one of the goals of the day with a thunderbolt into the top corner.
The last laugh was to go to the home side, though, when Ishmael Miller's stunning 25-yard strike ended the tie.
Aldershot 3-1 Rotherham
Aldershot beating Rotherham may not have caused much of ripple in the world of football, but it was one of the big shocks of the third round.
Aldershot, just fifth from the bottom of League Two and just three points above last place, took on Rotherham, who are chasing automatic promotion and who currently sit in third place in League Two.
The two teams were separated by a Danny Hylton hat-trick, the first of his career, as the Shots ran into a surprise three-goal lead. Rotherham fought back through a late strike by Lee Frecklington, but any hopes of a great comeback were outdone when Kari Arneson was sent off.
The game ended on a sour note for Danny Hylton as well after he received his marching orders with just four minutes to go, but by then the the game was well and truly over.
Manchester City 3-0 Watford
Manchester City ran out easy winners over Gianfranco Zola's Championship side Watford, with Carlos Tevez, Gareth Barry and debut boy Marcos Lopes all scoring.
The highlight of the easy victory was Lopes' 90th-minute strike just two minutes after coming on for David Silva.
Aston Villa 2-1 Ipswich Town
Aston Villa are through to the fourth round, but they had to do things the hard way after struggling Ipswich Town almost pulled off one of the cup shocks of the day.
Michael Chopra gave the Tractor Boys a first-half lead, only for Darren Bent, making a rare appearance in a Villa shirt, to equalise against his old club. Andreas Weimann, also making a return to the side, sealed the win with an 83rd-minute strike.
Fulham 1-1 Blackpool
Fulham will go into the fourth round draw, but only on a technicality, after Giorgios Karagounis' 80th-minute equaliser denied an adventurous Blackpool side.
Blackpool are one of the most exciting teams in the Championship this season and deservedly took the lead through Ludovic Sylvestre on the hour mark.
The match proved an end-to-end affair that saw both teams give their all. The Cottagers, though, will be unhappy with the result because they played their full-strength side. The draw means they will now face a more-than-tricky trek to Bloomfield Road, where Blackpool will fancy their chances.
Swansea City 2-2 Arsenal
Swansea and Arsenal will have to do battle again after playing out a thrilling 2-2 draw at the Liberty Stadium.
Danny Graham proved the hero for the home-side after his 87th-minute equaliser cancelled out Kieran Gibbs' 83rd minute goal. Gibbs had given Arsenal the lead following Lukas Podolski's 81st minute equaliser.
Graham's goal capped out a frenetic final 10 minutes where each team went at each other like it was their last game on earth.
Michu had opened the scoring just 73 seconds after he was introduced late in the second period.
|Crystal Palace||0-0||Stoke City|
|Brighton & Hove Albion||2-0||Newcastle United|
|Tottenham Hotspur||3-0||Coventry City|
|Wigan Athletic||1-1||AFC Bournemouth|
|Aston Villa||2-1||Ipswich Town|
|Charlton Athletic||0-1||Huddersfield Town|
|Macclesfield Town||2-1||Cardiff City|
|Leicester City||2-0||Burton Albion|
|Millwall||1-0||Preston North End|
|Derby County||5-0||Tranmere Rovers|
|Aldershot Town||3-1||Rotherham United|
|Oxford United||0-3||Sheffield United|
|Queens Park Rangers||1-1||West Bromwich Albion|
|Peterborough United||0-3||Norwich City|
|Nottingham Forest||2-3||Oldham Athletic|
|West Ham United||2-2||Manchester United|
|Hull City||1-1||Leyton Orient|
|Blackburn Rovers||2-0||Bristol City|
|Leeds United||1-1||Birmingham City|
|Luton Town||1-0||Wolverhampton Wanderers|
|Sheffield Wednesday||0-0||Milton Keynes Dons|
Norwich v Luton
Oldham v Liverpool
Macclesfield v Wigan or Bournemouth
Derby v Blackburn
Hull or Leyton Orient v Barnsley
Middlesbrough v Aldershot
Millwall v Aston Villa
Leeds or Birmingham v Tottenham
Brighton v Swansea or Arsenal
Crystal Palace or Stoke v Manchester City
West Ham or Manchester United v Fulham or Blackpool
Southend or Brentford v Chelsea
Reading v Sheffield United
Huddersfield v Leicester
QPR or West Brom v Sheffield Wednesday or MK Dons
Bolton or Sunderland v Cheltenham or Everton
Ties will take place on the 26/27 January