It was one of the biggest FA Cup shocks of recent times – and it arrived in the most dramatic fashion as Aston Villa became the latest Premier League team to bow out on a “magical” third-round weekend.
A record-equalling number of Premier League clubs, since the league’s inception in 1992, are now guaranteed to suffer early elimination in this season’s competition.
Eight Premier League clubs have already been knocked out of this year’s third round and one more top-flight elimination is certain when Liverpool and Wolves meet for their replay.
That ensures the most top division teams bowing out at the first hurdle since 2007-08 – the only other season to feature as many as nine sides fall since 1992.
The 2007-08 season was also, incidentally, the last in which a side from outside the Premier League reached the FA Cup final.
League leaders Arsenal hope to avoid a similar fate to Villa when they travel to League One side Oxford United on Monday evening, while Leeds United face a replay against Cardiff City of the Championship.
‘It’s what dreams are made of’ – ‘big-hearted’ Stevenage stun Villa
Villa manager Unai Emery, a four-time Europa League winner, made it clear this week that he was preparing his players with the objective of winning the competition.
But in a remarkable conclusion to Sunday’s tie, which confirmed the FA Cup’s propensity to surprise remains alive and well, it was Stevenage boss Steve Evans and his team who were left celebrating with their travelling supporters amid joyous scenes at full-time.
“It’s magical for the players, the chairman and for the town of Stevenage,” Evans said.
“To see over 3,000 fans here and winning the way we did, it’s the FA Cup and what dreams are made of,” he added.
“The plan all week was to make sure we were in the game at 75 minutes. If we were I knew we had an incredibly fit group and I could use the lads who have hearts the size of Big Ben.”
While Villa’s recent FA Cup form has been abysmal, losing each of their past eight games in the competition, Emery named experienced players such as Danny Ings and Philippe Coutinho in his starting line-up.
And while he was not alone, A frustrated Coutinho departed after 65 minutes having managed one shot on target despite a match-leading five attempts – and Stevenage’s official Twitter account could not resist a parting dig.
No shortage of upsets – but which surprised you the most?
Stevenage’s memorable upset against a club ranked 59 league places above them rounded off a brilliant weekend of FA Cup third-round drama.
They are the first fourth-tier side to beat a Premier League team in an away FA Cup tie for four years, when Oldham knocked out Fulham.
On Saturday, Premier League sides Nottingham Forest, Bournemouth and Newcastle United all also fell to lower-league opposition.
Second-tier strugglers Blackpool recorded an emphatic 4-1 victory over Forest and Championship leaders Burnley prevailed 4-2 against Bournemouth, while Newcastle, the Premier League’s third-placed side, lost 2-1 at League One club Sheffield Wednesday.
Away from the Premier League losers, non-league side Wrexham also made their claim for the biggest shock of the round.
The National League club, owned by Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, edged a seven-goal thriller against Championship side Coventry to reach the fourth round for the first time since 2000.
There are plenty to pick from, but which result surprised you the most? Have your say below.