Newcastle United may have become one of the richest football clubs in the world with Saudi backing but it hasn’t stopped them being humiliated at home by third-tier Cambridge United in the FA Cup.
The famous old Cup provided no respite for Eddie Howe’s beleaguered team, who lie next-to-last place in the League with just one win so far in all competitions this season.
Cambridge, lying in 16th place in League One, delivered the humiliation with Joe Ironside scoring a 56th-minute winner to stun the home fans.
Ironside, who grew up idolising Newcastle great Alan Shearer, said: “I am a bit lost for words. It panned out how I dreamed about it last night.”
Now backed with more resources than any other soccer club after being bought out by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund in October, Newcastle have just bought England right back Kieran Trippier to start what could be a month of heavy spending in the transfer window.
Trippier started against Cambridge, a day after signing from Atletico Madrid, but couldn’t make a difference in what will go down as one of the biggest financial mismatches in soccer history.
It wasn’t the only surprise on third round day, though, as the Cup will also see a team from the sixth tier in the draw for the last 32.
Playing a team 79 places higher in English soccer’s pyramid, Kidderminster Harriers rallied to beat Championship side Reading 2-1 and spark a pitch invasion by fans after 15 nervy minutes of second-half stoppage time.
Elsewhere, Boreham Wood manager Luke Garrard was “on top of the world” after his National League (fifth tier) outfit downed AFC Wimbledon to reach the fourth round for the first time.
An early goal from Tyrone Marsh and a late strike from substitute Adrian Clifton sent the Dons spinning to a 2-0 defeat.
In a less sizeable upset in the round that sees Premier League clubs enter the world’s oldest knockout competition, second-tier Huddersfield came from behind to beat top-flight Burnley 2-1.
Josh Koroma and Matty Pearson scored in the final 16 minutes at Turf Moor, where Burnley manager Sean Dyche wasn’t present after contracting COVId-19.
Premier League Crystal Palace survived a scare, rallying thanks to an inspired second-half display by winger Michael Olise to beat second-tier Millwall 2-1.
Leicester began their defence of the Cup with a 4-1 win over Watford, managed by Claudio Ranieri, the man who led the Foxes to the most unlikely of all Premier League triumphs in 2016.
Youri Tielemans, who scored a long-range winner in the final against Chelsea last season, got Leicester off to a good start by converting a penalty, before James Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Marc Albrighton also scored.
A number of Premier League teams needed to mount comebacks to see off lower-league opponents, some in extra time.
Everton conceded in the first minute of their match at second-tier Hull, but recovered and won 3-2 after extra time thanks to Andros Townsend’s long-range screamer in the 99th.
Southampton played with 10 men from the 30th minute against second-tier Swansea, went 2-1 behind early in extra time, but fought back to win 3-2 thanks to Shane Long’s clinching strike.
Brighton were a goal down to West Bromwich Albion before a home player was sent off in the 69th minute.
Jakub Moder’s 81st-minute equaliser took the game to extra time, where Neal Maupay sealed a 2-1 win for the Seagulls.