Violence and FA Cup upsets: Millwall lives up to reputation

Synonymous for decades with having violent fans, English soccer team Millwall has gained a reputation in recent years for being a so-called “giant killer” in the FA Cup.

Both sides of the club were on show on Saturday.

On another day of surprises in the famous competition, Millwall scored a winning goal in injury time to eliminate Premier League team Everton 3-2 at the fourth-round stage. Millwall, which plays in the second tier, has won five straight FA Cup home games against top-flight opponents dating to 2013 when it reached the semifinals.

The victory was marred, however, by violence off the field. Police say they believe fans of Millwall and Everton were involved in fighting before the match , during which a man was slashed in the face. He was taken to hospital and his injuries aren’t life-threatening.

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“The behavior of those involved in this incident is nothing short of disgraceful,” said Detective Inspector Darren Young of the Metropolitan Police, adding that footage of the brawling which was circulating on social media has “quite rightly elicited shock and disgust.”

Everton fans were held back inside Millwall’s stadium after the final whistle on safety grounds.

Millwall was renowned for its struggle with hooliganism in the 1970s and 80s. That reputation was revived during the FA Cup semifinals in 2013, when its fans turned on each other during a loss to Wigan at Wembley Stadium, leading to 14 arrests inside the stadium.

By losing at Millwall, Everton became the sixth Premier League side to lose to lower-league opposition, after Fulham, Leicester, Cardiff, Huddersfield and Southampton.

Within hours, there was a seventh as West Ham was stunned 4-2 at AFC Wimbledon, a team languishing in last place in the third tier.

Wolverhampton Wanderers avoided becoming another Premier League team humbled only by scoring in the third minute of injury time to salvage a 2-2 draw at third-tier Shrewsbury.

There was no danger of Manchester City being upset, however, as the English champion thrashed Burnley 5-0 at home to stay in the hunt for trophies on four fronts.

EVERTON EMBARRASSED

Unlike many other managers of mid-ranking Premier League teams, Everton’s Marco Silva treated the FA Cup with respect by fielding his strongest possible side against Millwall. Not that it did him any good.

In the last attack of the game, Murray Wallace converted from close range after a scramble inside the area following a free kick as Everton became the latest top-flight team to stumble at The Den.

As a third-tier team, Millwall beat three Premier League opponents — Bournemouth, Watford and Leicester — on its way to the quarterfinals in the 2016-17 season. In 2013, it beat top-flight Aston Villa en route to the semifinals.

A controversial goal from Jake Cooper, who used his hand to bundle the ball home, allowed Millwall to draw level at 2-2. Silva complained to the fourth official in the technical area after seeing the incident on the big screen. At the same time, Millwall coach Neil Harris was shouting up to the stands, demanding the screen stop showing the goal.

WIMBLEDON MAKES NEW CUP MEMORIES

Three goals down after 46 minutes, West Ham threatened to avoid humiliation by scoring twice in the space of 14 minutes to reduce the deficit to 3-2 by the 71st.

Wimbledon held firm, though, and clinched victory with a goal from a corner in the 88th.

Of course, this wasn’t the biggest upset in the FA Cup by a team called Wimbledon. In 1988, Wimbledon FC beat Liverpool in the final at Wembley.

That club relocated to Milton Keynes, north of London, and became known as MK Dons. Disaffected fans responded by forming a new club in 2002, AFC Wimbledon, which started out in the ninth tier and has risen rapidly up the league system.

WOLVES ESCAPE

Matt Doherty, a wing back with a taste for attacking, popped up in the box to head in Adama Traore’s cross to keep alive Wolves’ chances of a fifth FA Cup title, and a first since 1960.

Wolves, who knocked out Liverpool in the third round, rested goalkeeper Rui Patricio and started with key players such as Raul Jimenez, Joao Moutinho and Jonny Castro on the bench for the game despite not being in genuine danger of relegation in its first season back in the Premier League.

With Liverpool and Arsenal — beaten by Manchester United on Friday — already eliminated, Wolves are the fifth highest-ranked team left in the competition.

NEWCASTLE FALL SHORT AGAIN

Newcastle’s woeful record in the FA Cup continued with a 2-0 home loss to fellow Premier League team Watford.

Not since 2006 has Newcastle reached the fifth round. That predates the arrival of owner Mike Ashley, who has made Premier League survival a priority for the club rather than a run in a cup competition.

Brighton was taken to a replay by second-tier West Bromwich Albion after a 0-0 draw.

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Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80

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