Ranked

The best FA Cup third round ties ever - ranked

Jan 8, 2021, 8:15 PM GMT
Wayne Rooney, Patrice Evra
Wayne Rooney celebrates a goal | Alex Livesey/Getty Images
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The third round of the FA Cup is where the fun starts. The big boys are in and things get real.

Since its inception in 1871, there have been countless exciting third-round ties, some of which have gone down as real modern classics. There's been drama, excitement, chaos and upsets, and that's why we love the FA Cup.

Let's check out ten of the best games the third round has thrown up.

10. Grimsby Town 2-3 Huddersfield Town (04/01/14)

Ross Hannah
Grimsby nearly caused an upset | Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

A famous near-upset, Huddersfield needed two late goals to avoid falling to non-league Grimsby in 2014.

The hosts led twice during the game and entered the 86th minute with one foot in the fourth round, but an equaliser from Martin Paterson set up a fascinating end.

Grimsby ended up losing the game in the most heartbreaking way possible - a 90th minute own goal from Aswad Thomas.

9. Arsenal 0-2 Millwall (18/01/95)

The 1994/95 season was a rough one for Arsenal, but even though they were struggling in the Premier League, nobody expected them to be brushed aside by second-tier Millwall.

A strong Arsenal team which featured the likes of Tony Adams and Ian Wright were absolutely played off the park. Millwall took the lead after 11 minutes through Mark Beard and continued to push for more, refusing to sit back against the superior opposition.

The highlight came in injury time as 18-year-old Mark Kennedy embarked on a 60-yard-run, dancing past countless Arsenal stars before unleashing a ferocious strike to put the ultimate exclamation mark on the game.

8. Liverpool 1-2 Reading (13/01/10)

Gylfi Sigurdsson, Brian Howard
Gylfi Sigurdsson celebrates scoring a penalty | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

After picking up a 1-1 draw in the first game, Reading travelled to Anfield to face Liverpool in a replay which will live long in the memory for a whole host of reasons.

For Liverpool, they were in turmoil after a string of poor results and reports of backroom bust-ups, whereas Reading - fourth-bottom in the Championship - were just happy to be involved.

A Ryan Bertrand own goal had Liverpool up at half-time, but Reading bagged a deserve equaliser through Gylfi Sigurdsson's penalty, and they went on to win the whole thing with an extra-time strike from Shane Long.

7. Manchester United 0-1 Leeds United (03/01/10)

Jermaine Beckford
Beckford scored a famous winner | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Meetings between Manchester United and Leeds are always special, and their third-round tie in January 2010 was no exception.

Simon Grayson's Leeds were labouring down in the third tier at the time, with 42 places separating the two in the Football League, but a 19th-minute strike from Jermaine Beckford was enough to seal a historic win for the visitors.

It was the first time under Sir Alex Ferguson that United had been eliminated in the third round, as well as the first time they had ever lost an FA Cup game to a side outside the Premier League.

6. Wrexham 2-1 Arsenal (04/01/92)

Reigning First Division champions Arsenal vs a Wrexham side who had just finished bottom of the fourth tier, what could go wrong?

George Graham's Gunners dominated early on and took a deserved lead through Alan Smith shortly before half-time, but that's where the fun really started.

Wrexham dominated after the interval, playing the kind of football you'd expect to see from top-tier sides, and goals in the 82nd and 84th minute sparked a pitch invasion from fans who were desperate to celebrate one of the greatest giant-killings in competition history.

5. Fulham 4-3 Leicester City (17/01/07)

James Wesolowski, Iain Hume
Leicester thought they had it won | Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Leicester thought they had flown through their third-round replay against Fulham when James Wesolowski put their 3-1 up minutes after half-time.

In search of a way back into the game, Fulham brought on Italian striker Vincenzo Montella, who attacked the game like a man possessed. He bagged two goals before the hour mark and set the game up for an enthralling finale.

Leicester had to hold on and were seconds away from extra-time, only for a mazy run from Wayne Routledge to lead to a 94th-minute winner for the Cottagers.

4. Sutton United 2-1 Coventry City (07/01/89)

The magic of the FA Cup. We've all heard that phrase, and it's used to describe games exactly like this tie between Sutton United and Coventry.

Sutton were kicking about in non-league football, while Coventry were only 18 months removed from winning the FA Cup. On paper, this game could only go one way.

The minnows took the lead before half-time but were pegged back after the break, only for Matthew Hanlan to bag what proved to be the winner shortly before the hour mark and seal one of the most famous shocks in cup history.

3. Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United (08/01/12)

Michael Carrick, Samir NAsri
United held on for a win | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

We don't often see titans clash in the third round, so a Manchester derby between City and United was a pleasant surprise.

On an afternoon which was immortalised by the return of midfielder Paul Scholes from retirement, the excitement was maintained for the entire contest.

It could have gone another way as United roared into a three-goal (and one-man) advantage in the first half, but a pulsating comeback from City had Ferguson's side begging for the full-time whistle as they had to fight off attack after attack.

2. Aston Villa 2-3 Manchester United (06/01/02)

Laurent Blanc, Ruud van Nistelrooy
Van Nistelrooy had to save the day | PAUL BARKER/Getty Images

Peter Schmeichel came within minutes from getting one over on former employers United in the most spectacular fashion.

United put out a good side but were 2-0 down after 53 minutes, and as the clock started to wind down, it looked like they were staring elimination in the face, only for Ruud van Nistelrooy to change the story.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer pulled one back in the 77th minute, before second-half substitute Van Nistelrooy netted twice in two minutes to dump Villa out of the cup.

1. Luton Town 3-5 Liverpool (07/01/06)

Steven Gerrard, Dirk Kuyt, Xabi Alonso
Liverpool avoided a real scare | Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

This one had a little bit of everything: a potential giant-killing, a missed penalty, a late comeback and a goal from a bazillion yards out.

Steven Gerrard's stunning early opener was cancelled out by Steve Howard, Steve Robinson and Kevin Nichols, who had Luton 3-1 up in the 53rd minute - three minutes after Djibril Cisse had missed a penalty. It was happening.

Florent Sinama-Pongolle and a 40-yarder from Xabi Alonso tied things up, and the former headed home in the 74th minute to steer Liverpool ahead, but the best was yet to come.

Luton goalkeeper Marlon Beresford came forward for a stoppage-time corner, only to be rounded by Alonso and humiliated as the Spaniard's 60-yard strike trickled into an empty net.

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