Reading force Liverpool into Cup replay
LONDON, Jan 2, 2010 (AFP) - Liverpool's season suffered another stutter as they were held to a 1-1 draw at Championship strugglers Reading in the third round of the FA Cup on Saturday.
Liverpool, for whom the FA Cup represents their last realistic hope of domestic silverware this term, fell behind in the 24th minute.
Ryan Bertrand's free-kick was kept in expertly by Grzegorz Rasiak at the far post and, following his first-time cross, Simon Church scored from barely a yard out.
|Liverpool's Steven Gerrard (2nd L) jumps for the ball against Reading's Kalifa Cisse (2nd R) during the FA Cup third round football match between Reading and Liverpool on January 2, 2010 (AFP photo)|
Liverpool though were only behind for 12 minutes, inspirational captain Steven Gerrard scoring with a curling 25-yard shot.
"I'm relieved," said under-pressure Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez.
"I think it was difficult. I think Reading played really well. To play in front of the TV (cameras) and against Liverpool I think was a massive boost for them and you could see they played really well."
Earlier, Australia's Tim Cahill ensured Liverpool's city neighbours Everton avoided the embarrassment of a replay against third-tier side Carlisle by scoring the crucial goal in a 3-1 victory at Goodison Park.
Everton, last season's losing finalists, went ahead in the 12th minute when a back pass from Carlisle's Adam Clayton gifted the ball to Toffees striker James Vaughan.
But Carlisle equalised six minutes later when Clayton's shot was deflected in by team-mate Kevan Hurst.
The visitors were level until the 82nd minute when Australia midfielder Cahill scored before Leighton Baines's last-minute penalty sealed the win.
"I was not surprised by Carlisle, but I was disappointed that when we went one up early on, we were not able to build on that and control the game better," said Everton manager David Moyes.
Premier League basement club Portsmouth, the 2008 FA Cup winners, had to come from a goal behind to salvage a 1-1 draw at home to Championship side Coventry City for whom David Bell scored in the 30th minute.
But on the stroke of half-time, cash-strapped Pompey equalised through Kevin-Prince Boateng's header.
Sunderland defeated non-league Barrow 3-0 at the Stadium of Light thanks to a Steed Malbranque goal and two headers from Frazier Campbell.
Stoke saw off non-league York 3-1, the latter going ahead through Neil Barrett. Stoke drew level through Daniel Parslow's own-goal, and went clear through Ricardo Fuller before Matthew Etherington completed the scoring.
Relegation-threatened Bolton, who on Wednesday sacked manager Gary Megson, endured a goalless first-half before beating Lincoln, 90th out of England's 92 league clubs, 4-0.
Championship high-flyers Nottingham Forest held Premier League Birmingham to a goalless draw in a match where Forest's Robert Earnshaw missed a second-half penalty.
In the all Premier League clashes, Aston Villa beat Blackburn Rovers 3-1 and Wigan came from behind to defeat Hull 4-1.
Villa went ahead through Nathan Delfouneso's 12th minute header before Rovers saw David Dunn's penalty saved by Brad Guzan.
Carlos Cuellar's header made it 2-0 before Blackburn were reduced to 10 men when striker El-Hadji Diouf was sent off for a challenge on Habib Beye.
Nikola Kalinic pulled one back for Rovers but John Carew's last-minute penalty secured Villa's victory.
Hull went ahead away to Wigan thanks to Geovanni's 35th minute free-kick.
But Wigan's Charles N'Zogbia equalised two minutes after the break and the hosts' comeback continued when James McCarthy scored in the 63rd minute.
N'Zogbia, a half-time substitute, then made it 3-1 three minutes later with Scott Sinclair adding a fourth in the last minute.
Manchester City won 1-0 away to Championship side Middlesbrough thanks to Zimbabwean striker Benjani Mwaruwari's goal a minute before the break.
Tottenham beat second-tier Peterborough 4-0, Croatia midfielder Niko Kranjcar scoring twice before half-time.
Championship side Preston, who sacked manager Alan Irvine last week, were the day's biggest winners, hammering League One Colchester 7-0.
Sunday's ties feature Cup holders Chelsea at home to Watford, Manchester United in action against Leeds and Arsenal away to London rivals West Ham.