BY JUSTIN FERGUSON
It only took Wayne Rooney nine minutes to make an impact in his return from injury, and his quick goal was all that Manchester United needed to get the FA Cup replay victory over West Ham on Wednesday.
Rooney, who had been out since Christmas Day with a knee injury suffered during training, redirected a pass from Javier Hernandez into a wide-open goal to register his ninth goal of the season.
Manchester United dominated the first half against the injury-plagued Hammers, but a few great plays by the visiting back line kept the score 1-0 at the halftime whistle. West Ham was able to get its offense going in the second half, but was never able to find an equalizer.
Rooney had a chance to seal the deal in the 79th minute when Jordan Spence was whistled for a handball in the box, but the striker sent his penalty try over the crossbar, resulting in a nervy final 10 minutes for the home team.
Manchester United will face Fulham in the next round.
Also in FA Cup action on Wednesday, Jack Wilshere’s 86th minute blast gave Arsenal their own 1-0 win, dispatching Swansea City. The Gunners advance to face Brighton & Hove Albion in the fourth round.
Here are some more stories to wrap up your Wednesday:
CHELSEA BLOWS TWO-GOAL LEAD, TIES SOUTHAMPTON IN EPL PLAY
After cruising past Southampton 5-1 over a week ago in FA Cup play, Chelsea was forced to share points with the visiting Saints after giving up a two-goal halftime lead.
Demba Ba opened the scoring for the Blues in the 25th minute, getting an acrobatic volley past Southampton goalkeeper Artur Boruc. Later, right before the halftime whistle, Eden Hazard struck one past Boruc following a Ramires shot that cannoned off the crossbar.
Nigel Adkins substituted Rickie Lambert for Jay Rodriguez early into the second frame, hoping to avoid a repeat of the FA Cup defeat. The move worked perfectly for the visitors–Lambert scored three minutes after being subbed on.
Chelsea missed two good chances following the Lambert goal, and Southampton made them pay for those misses. Jason Puncheon took a cross from Luke Shaw in the 75th and rifled the ball past Petr Cech for the equalizer.
Fernando Torres would controversially come on for Frank Lampard following the Puncheon goal, but he would not be able to help orchestrate a winner for Chelsea.
MALAGA GETS LATE EQUALIZER TO TIE BARCELONA
Malaga midfielder Ignacio Camacho scored off of a Sergio Barbosa free kick in the 90th minute, setting up a winner-take-all second leg against Barcelona in the quarterfinals of Copa del Rey.
The visiting Malaga club struck first at Camp Nou when Manuel Iturra took a weak attempted pass from Barcelona goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto and turned it into a 25th minute lead.
But, minutes later, Lionel Messi knocked home an equalizer, fighting off Malaga defender Welington and curling a ball around Idriss Kameni. Barcelona would get the lead in the very next minute as a glancing header from Carlos Puyol somehow managed to get over Kameni.
A Barcelona win seemed imminent in the 75th minute when Malaga midfielder Nacho Monreal was sent off for a nasty tackle on Pedro Rodriguez.
But Camacho was able to get on the end of Barbosa’s free kick in the dying moments of the match, bringing the scoreline level and handing Barcelona only their second draw of the 2012-13 season.
QPR continued its busy January window on Wednesday, finalizing a club record-breaking transfer for Marseille striker Loïc Rémy. (REPORT)
AC Milan’s Kevin Prince Boateng has been invited to the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination event in March following his actions during a recent friendly. (REPORT)
Tottenham confirmed that midfielder Sandro, who was injured during Saturday’s 0-0 draw with QPR, has undergone knee surgery. (REPORT)
What do you think of these reports? Think Arsenal and Manchester United will make it to the fifth round? What are your thoughts on Chelsea’s recent up-and-down form? What are your predictions for the decisive second leg between Barcelona and Malaga?
Share your thoughts below.