It was not a day for FA Cup romantics as Manchester United struggled past Sheffield United and minor league Eastleigh came within a whisker of causing the third round’s only genuine shock on Saturday.
Old Trafford fans endured more than 90 minutes of insipid stalemate before Wayne Rooney’s stoppage-time penalty gave 11-times winners Manchester United a 1-0 win against a third-tier side 48 places below them in the football pyramid.
None of the 25 matches played on Saturday will enter the folklore of the historic competition but tiny Eastleigh did their best against four-times winners Bolton Wanderers, a club steeped in FA Cup tradition.
On a gluepot of a pitch at their 5,000-capacity Ten Acres ground, the part-timers who are nicknamed the Spitfires after the World War II plane that first flew from the local airfield, led through Dorian Dervite’s own goal.
However, they had their wings clipped when debt-ridden second tier strugglers Bolton levelled three minutes from time. Bolton’s Darren Pratley levelled to deny the minor leaguers a place in the fourth round for the first time in their 70-year history.
Holders Arsenal, bidding to become the first club to win the trophy three times in succession since Blackburn Rovers in the 19th century, came from a goal down to beat Sunderland 3-1.
Premier League leaders Arsenal notched a 13th consecutive FA Cup win with goals from Joel Campbell, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud after Jeremain Lens put Sunderland ahead.
Manchester City and Everton advanced, Manuel Pellegrini’s men winning 3-0 at Norwich City in one of four all top-flight clashes while Roberto Martinez’s team ended the hopes of fourth-tier Dagenham and Redbridge with a 2-0 victory at Goodison Park.
Sergio Aguero scored a superb individual goal and set one up for Kelechi Iheanacho as Manchester City eased past Norwich. Arouna Kone and Kevin Mirallas earned Everton victory over Dagenham who are 79 places lower.
Wycombe Wanderers will be in the hat for the fourth round, along with fourth-tier rivals Exeter City, after a 1-1 draw at home to the Premier League’s bottom club Aston Villa who have now gone 16 matches without a win.
Watford beat Premier League rivals Newcastle United 1-0, Crystal Palace overcame Southampton 2-1 and West Ham United edged past second tier Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 at Upton Park.
No Premier League clubs suffered defeats by lower league opponents but West Bromwich Albion needed James Morrison’s late goal to steal a 2-2 draw at home to Bristol City.
On Sunday, Leicester City visit Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea host Scunthorpe United and Swansea City hope to avoid embarrassment at fourth tier Oxford United.