Arsenal open FA defense with comeback win

By Jack Bezants ,AP

LONDON — Arsenal began its FA Cup defense with a 3-1 comeback victory against Sunderland and was joined in the fourth round by Manchester United and Manchester City on Saturday.

United labored past Sheffield United 1-0 at Old Trafford, and Manchester City emphatically defeated Norwich 3-0.

Also, Premier League side Aston Villa was held to 1-1 at fourth-tier Wycombe, while fifth-tier Eastleigh drew 1-1 with second-division side Bolton.

It looked as if there could be a shock at Emirates Stadium, where the Premier League leader fell behind to a Jermaine Lens strike after 17 minutes for Sunderland, which was second-to-last in the league.

But Joel Campbell equalized, then two goals in three second-half minutes from substitute Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud ensured Arsenal moved on to the next round.

“In the second half we took over,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. “We played in their half, scored great goals, and created many chances.”

United overcame Sheffield with a penalty from Wayne Rooney with time virtually up, but its performance against third-tier opposition was another display lacking attacking intent.

When substitute Memphis Depay tried his luck with a low shot which went comfortably wide in the 66th minute, it was United’s first attempt at goal, and was greeted with sarcastic cheers by supporters.

Depay was felled in the box in the third minute of injury time by Dean Hammond, and Rooney scored from the spot.

United manager Louis van Gaal regarded the result as more important than the performance.

“You have to play more quickly than we did in the first half,” Van Gaal said. “They are defending with 10, 11 players behind the ball. It’s more easy to defend than attack.”

City had no problems at Norwich. Sergio Aguero beat four players before converting for the opener, and assisted on the second scored by Kelechi Iheanacho.

Kevin De Bruyne added the third, shooting though the legs of goalkeeper John Ruddy.

Eastleigh went 1-0 up over Bolton in the second half of its match at its Silverlake Stadium with an own goal by Bolton defender Dorian Dervite, but Darren Pratley saved humiliation by leveling moments from the end.

Villa became the second Premier League side to fail to beat fourth-tier opposition.

Villa captain Micah Richards gave his side the lead in the first half but Joe Jacobson leveled for the Chairboys with a penalty.

Villa was also last in the Premier League, and the draw stretched its winless run to 16 matches. After the game, Richards was on the pitch having an animated discussion with unhappy Villa supporters, and manager Remi Garde accepted the criticism.

“I can understand the fans,” Garde said. “They travel a long way … and this is what we deserve.”

Liverpool was the first Premier League side held by fourth-division opponents on Friday, when it drew with Exeter 2-2.

Its local rival Everton avoided a similar fate against opponents from the same division, as it beat Dagenham 2-0 at Goodison Park with goals from Aruna Kone and Kevin Mirallas.

West Brom needed a last-minute goal from James Morrison to draw with second tier Bristol City 2-2 and earn a replay, while Bournemouth came from a goal behind to beat Birmingham 2-1.

Of other Premier League teams, Southampton lost 2-1 against Crystal Palace, Watford beat Newcastle 1-0, West Ham edged Wolverhampton 1-0, and Stoke beat Doncaster 2-1.