Ferguson red-faced as Exeter embarrass United

Agence France Presse

London, January 9:

Sir Alex Ferguson was forced to issue an apology to Manchester United fans around the world after non-league minnows Exeter City left Old Trafford having secured an FA Cup third round replay. A day of upsets defied those who say the world’s oldest tournament has lost its romance and there was none bigger than the goalless draw Exeter achieved in front of a sold-out Old Trafford. It was an equally miserable afternoon for Manchester City, who crashed to a 1-0 defeat in a derby clash with League One strugglers Oldham.

Even Chelsea did not emerge from the afternoon unscathed. The Premiership leaders were given an almighty fright by Scunthorpe but Eidur Gudjohnsen completed a 3-1 win that keeps Jose Mourinho’s side on track for a potential quadruple of Premiership, Champions League, Cup and League Cup trophies. After Manchester City, Aston Villa were the day’s biggest casualties, a 3-1 defeat at Sheffield United.

Villa were joined at the exit door by last season’s beaten finalists Millwall, who were beaten 2-0 by Wolves. Norwich dominated their encounter with West Ham but lost out to Marlon Harewood’s 81st-minute winner. Crystal Palace were also left with only the fight for Premiership survival to concentrate on this season after a 2-1 defeat at Sunderland.

Notts County, fifth from bottom of League Two, led Middlesbrough until nine minutes into the second half. But Tony Scully’s second minute strike was finally cancelled out by Doriva and Joseph Desire Job fired Boro into fourth round draw.

An early strike from Emile Heskey and a double from Darren Carter enabled Birmingham to ease into the fourth round with a 3-0 win over Leeds at St Andrews.

Bolton emerged from a tricky tie away to Ipswich with a 3-1 win. Everton won by the same scoreline at Plymouth. A superb late winner from Robbie Keane gave Tottenham a 2-1 win over Brighton. Jamie Redknapp scored his first goal since being reunited with father Harry at Southampton as Saints beat Northampton 3-1.

West Brom fans finally had something to cheer about after a 2-0 win away to on-form Preston North End. It was also an afternoon to remember for League Two leaders Yeovil, who were convincing 3-0 winners away to Rotherham. Charlton were the day’s top scorers after easing past Rochdale 4-1.

Spanish La Liga

MADRID: Miguel Angel “Mista” Ferrer scored a disputed 60th-minute goal to lead Valencia over crosstown rival Levante 2-1 and cut FC Barcelona’s lead in the Spanish league to seven points.

Spain midfielder Ruben Baraja opened the scoring for Claudio Ranieri’s team five minutes earlier, but Colombian substitute Edwin Congo reduced the deficit in the 74th minute.

In another 18th-round game, Sevilla was held to a 0-0 draw with visiting Getafe. Sevilla stretched its unbeaten streak to five

but remained in fourth place. Also, Athletic Bilbao drew 1-1 on its visit to last-place Numancia and saw its three-game winning streak ended.

FC Barcelona leads the standings with 42 points. Valencia has 35, three more than Real Madrid and Sevilla, which have 32 points each. Espanyol is next with 30 points. — AP