• FA Cup round-up

Suarez hands Liverpool victory as Swans deny Arsenal

ESPN staff
January 6, 2013
Mansfield Town 1-2 Liverpool

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Liverpool weathered a late storm to book their place in the FA Cup fourth round with victory at Mansfield, while Danny Graham forced a replay for Swansea with a late equaliser against Arsenal.

FA Cup results

Daniel Sturridge marked his Liverpool debut with a goal as the Reds booked a fourth-round clash with Oldham Athletic following a 2-1 victory over Mansfield Town at the One Call Stadium.

Sturridge needed just seven minutes to open his Liverpool account before Luis Suarez's controversial goal early in the second half put the game beyond Mansfield, although Liverpool were forced to weather a late storm after the hosts pulled a goal back through Matt Green.

Suarez appeared to handle the ball before rifling the ball past Stags keeper Alan Marriott, but the goal was allowed to stand. Mansfield continued to battle bravely, but were unable to force a replay as Brad Jones was forced to make a number of crucial saves.

Making his first appearance since his transfer from Chelsea, Sturridge looked lively and could have had a hattrick inside the opening 15 minutes. Running onto a precise throughball from Jonjo Shelvey, Sturridge stroked the ball past Mansfield keeper Alan Marriot first time.

He nearly got his second two minutes later, racing onto a sloppy backpass from John Dempster, but Marriott was out quickly to deal with it, and he stood up to block Sturridge's shot when the striker was guilty of hesitating when one-on-one with the keeper.

Mansfield also had their chances in the first half - Green was denied a penalty after he appeared to be bundled over in the box by Sebastian Coates before the striker forced a save from Jones after a fierce strike from the edge of the area.

And the visitors started brightly in the second half, dominating possession and putting their Premier League opponents under a host of pressure. Jones pulled off a save before fumbling a second before Green's backheel was saved at point blank range.

Pushing forward in search of an equaliser, Mansfield were leaving themselves exposed on the counterattack, and Liverpool broke through Stewart Downing, who threaded the ball through to Sturridge, but his shot flashed narrowly wide.

The former Chelsea striker was replaced by Suarez on 55 minutes, and the Reds' top scorer had the ball in the back of the net inside four minutes, albeit in controversial circumstances. Marriott saved Suarez's initial strike from Downing's square pass, but Suarez appeared to control the ball with his hand before bundling home the rebound.

But Mansfield deservedly claimed a consolation goal through the ever-lively Green, who lashed the ball home after Lee Beevers knocked the ball back from Colin Daniel's cross to the far post after Liverpool failed to clear their lines from a free-kick.

Jones was kept busy in the dying minutes as Mansfield desperately searched for an equaliser to keep them in the competition, but Liverpool held out to seal their place in the last 32.

Arsenal produced two goals in the last ten minutes to seemingly wrap up victory in the FA Cup third round against Swansea, but they were denied by Danny Graham in the 87th minute as the sides settled for a thrilling 2-2 draw.

With Arsene Wenger's side 18 points adrift of league leaders Manchester United, the FA Cup represents arguably the Gunners' best hope of silverware this season, but with nine minutes left they trailed to Michu's excellent solo strike.

Cue a late charge as Lukas Podolski - with an instinctive strike - and then Kieran Gibbs - with a glorious volley - turned the match on its head in the space of three minutes.

However, just when the Gunners thought they had booked their place in round four, Graham appeared unmarked at the back post, slamming into the roof of the net to force a replay for the Swans.

There was little sign of the drama that followed in a first half that only stirred briefly to life, once in the 13th minute when Graham forced a sharp stop from Wojciech Szczesny, and then again moments before half-time when ex-Gunner Kyle Bartley headed against the bar.

A driving run by Aaron Ramsey produced strong penalty appeals directly after the interval as Dwight Tiendalli appeared to inadvertently clip the heels of the Arsenal midfielder, but a penalty award would have been extremely harsh.

Olivier Giroud, who started the game for Arsenal, troubled Michel Vorm with a spectacular volley moments later, prompting Michael Laudrup to turn to his main man from the bench.

Within moments, Michu picked up the ball just inside the Arsenal half, dinked it over the off-balance Per Mertesacker and then kept his cool to slot past Szczesny while under pressure from Laurent Koscielny.

Arsenal could and should have responded when Giroud missed a gilt-edged header from six yards, and then Theo Walcott slashed wide when one-one-one with the goalkeeper.

They finally got their reward nine minutes from time when Podolski swivelled and hit in one movement, and then Gibbs nudged Arsenal ahead when he slammed a volley high above the helpless Vorm.

Still there was time for Swansea to equalise, Graham taking advantage of Arsenal's zonal marking, and both sides could have won it as Tiendalli and Koscielny both wasted fine chances in the dying minutes.

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