Football Features

FA Cup fifth round stats and stories you might have missed: Haaland and KDB crush Luton

By Squawka News

Published: 22:51, 27 February 2024

Tuesday night brought the FA Cup back into focus with three fifth-round ties taking place, each including at least one Premier League team.

With Coventry City having already seen off Maidstone United 5-0 on Monday night, Luton Town hosted Manchester City in Tuesday’s most eye-catching tie.

However, there was plenty at stake in the other two games as Championship met Premier League, with Newcastle travelling to Blackburn and Bournemouth welcoming Leicester.

There was plenty to sink your teeth into, especially at Kenilworth Road, so read on for the stats and stories you might have missed.

1. The Haaland/De Bruyne show sinks brave Luton 

If you didn’t tune into Luton Town vs Manchester City on Tuesday, you missed out on one of the most remarkable games of football this season. You’d be forgiven for thinking Pep Guardiola’s men had cruised to a victory with a four-goal margin, putting the Hatters away 6-2.

However, it’d be doing Luton a disservice not to applaud their efforts in pulling two goals back after falling 3-0 behind, with Jordan Clark scoring two very different but equally impressive goals to keep things at least temporarily interesting. Ross Barkley set up Clark for both strikes but don’t get too excited; that’s not even close to being the most successful partnership in this match.

No. Instead, Erling Haaland helped himself to not one, not two, not three (takes deep breath), not four, but five goals in 58 minutes, with the Norwegian pretty much displaying every method there is in terms of getting away from defenders and finding space inside the box. In doing so, he became the first player to score 5+ goals in a single Champions League game and 5+ goals in an FA Cup match.

But we’ve still not reached the most remarkable stat. That title is taken by the magician that is Kevin De Bruyne setting up each of Haaland’s first four strikes. For context, the last time a Premier League player had even provided three assists for one player in a single match in any competition was Diogo Jota for Mohamed Salah against Rangers in the Champions League in October 2022.

For what it’s worth, Haaland still didn’t really come close to scoring the most goals in a single FA Cup game, with Ted MacDougall scoring nine for Bournemouth in an 11-0 win over Margate in November 1971. But this was a true finishing clinic, with his five goals coming from seven shots.

“We made a plan and everyone stuck to it perfectly. Well played by everyone,” Haaland told ITV after the match. “Kevin de Bruyne is massive. He is doing what he is best at. It’s a pleasure playing with him. We know what we both want from each other. it clicks well. He is a smart player and I like to play with him.

“My fitness? I am getting back to my best. Finally, I am feeling good. It’s an amazing feeling. It’s coming, we’re coming. Exciting times ahead. We are ready to attack.”

2. De Bruyne races to the top of Man City’s assist chart

Prior to this match, Julian Alvarez (10) and Phil Foden (10) occupied the top two spots on Manchester City’s assist charts across all competitions this season, reaching their respective tallies in 37 and 39 appearances.

In one fell swoop, De Bruyne — helped, of course, by Haaland’s finishing — blasted himself above both. But here’s the thing: De Bruyne has been injured for almost the entire season, yet only four players from Europe’s big five leagues have provided more assists than Kevin De Bruyne across all competitions this season: Florian Wirtz (17), Pascal Groß (13), Bukayo Saka (12) and Leroy Sané (12).

The Belgian has managed to blow most of Europe away and remind us all of just how ludicrously talented he is in 12 games – 11 assists, 10 wins, two draws, 0 defeats, the Community Shield against Arsenal was decided on penalties.

“What can I say? Really, really good. Erling [Haaland] is on fire and Kevin [de Bruyne]…the connection was perfect. It was a really good game and we are in the quarter-finals,” said City boss Guardiola.

“Kevin needs players like Erling and Erling needs players like Kevin. We are not here without the other guys. A lot of credit for everyone.

“We won our last two games 1-0 and against Chelsea we played good in the second half but couldn’t win. One game at a time. The FA Cup is a really nice competition. We are one game away to go to Wembley again.”

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3. Newcastle’s quest to end trophy drought continues

It’s been 69 long years since Newcastle United’s 1955 FA Cup triumph — the last major trophy this club lifted.

During that time, we’ve seen man walk on the moon, England win the World Cup and the Wembley Stadium that FA Cup was won in knocked down and rebuilt. The Magpies have had some near misses during that time but are yet to find a reason to polish off the trophy cabinet or make room for new additions.

It feels about right, then, that despite only going ahead through Anthony Gordon in the 71st minute, Newcastle were pegged back by Blackburn — who, for what it’s worth, have won a Premier League title and a League Cup since Newcastle last tasted success — just eight minutes later, forcing extra-time and, eventually, penalties at Ewood Park.

Newcastle got the job done in the end, battling their way through and standing tall in the shootout to seal their place in the quarter-finals. And that deserves some credit considering how stretched Eddie Howe’s squad has been this season.

The hunt continues for a club with financially-injected optimism.

4. Leicester cause shock on south coast

As FA Cup shocks go, the Championship table-toppers knocking out the Premier League’s 14th-best team doesn’t sound too distinctive. Even less so when you consider the team doing the shocking won this competition just three years ago and lifted a Premier League title in 2016.

However, Leicester’s 1-0 win over Bournemouth on Tuesday is still a Championship team knocking out a top-flight side and they did so in dramatic fashion.

In a match that was marred by truly awful finishing — Bournemouth squandering 2.44 Expected Goals and while Leicester registered 1.67 — it was Abdul Issahaku who provided the moment of magic in the 15th minute of extra time, letting fly from just outside the box with enough power to mean Mark Travers’ fingertips were rendered worthless.

Now, we all know that Leicester are the masters of the unlikely story. But winning the FA Cup from outside the top flight? Surely not. That has only ever been done eight times and not since West Ham in 1980.