With their Premier League rivals busy with FA Cup commitments, Wayne Rooney scored four as Manchester United FC moved top of the table by defeating Hull City AFC 4-0 while holders Chelsea FC eased into the fifth round.
United, who had fit-again Rio Ferdinand making his first appearance since 25 October, took the lead on eight minutes at Old Trafford. There remained one goal in it, however, until the final eight minutes when the England striker added three more, taking his Premier League tally for the season to 19. The victory takes the champions two points above Arsenal FC and Chelsea, who earlier in the day won 2-0 at Championship outfit Preston North End FC courtesy of strikes from Nicolas Anelka and Daniel Sturridge.
In the two all-top-flight ties, Everton – beaten finalists last season – lost 2-1 at home to Birmigham City FC, while John Utaka scored twice for Portsmouth FC as the Premier League's bottom club came from behind to defeat Sunderland AFC 2-1. Elsewhere, League Cup finalists Aston Villa FC overcame Brighton & Hove Albion FC 3-2, Bolton Wanderers FC defeated Sheffield United FC 2-0 and Fulham FC won 3-1 at fourth-tier Accrington Stanley FC.
Two other Premier League clubs were taken to replays by lower-league opposition, however. Wigan Athletic FC drew 2-2 at Notts County FC having been two goals down at half-time, while Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Crystal Palace FC played out the same result at Molineux. Reading FC, conquerors of Liverpool FC in the previous round, claimed another top-flight scalp in beating Burnley FC 1-0. In the late game, an added-time penalty from Jermaine Beckford − his second goal of the match − earned Leeds United AFC a 2-2 draw at Tottenham Hotspur FC. On Sunday, Stoke City FC host Arsenal FC and Manchester City FC travel to Scunthorpe United FC.
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