A stoppage-time penalty from Wayne Rooney snatched a 1-0 FA Cup third-round win for Manchester United against Sheffield United as Old Trafford endured another turgid offering from Louis van Gaal’s side.
The League One side were rarely threatened during the 90 minutes, with full-back Matteo Darmian producing the hosts’ first shot on target in the 69th minute.
A return to Bramall Lane appeared to be firmly on the cards until Dean Hammond slid in foolishly to bring down substitute Memphis Depay and Rooney made no mistake from 12 yards.
There was almost a huge shock at Eastleigh where the FA Cup’s only remaining non-league side came agonisingly close to dumping out Championship strugglers Bolton.
Dorian Dervite’s own-goal early in the second-half looked set to be decisive but Darren Pratley fired home three minutes from time to spare the blushes of manager Neil Lennon.
Remi Garde remains in search of his first win as Aston Villa manager as a 50th-minute penalty from Joe Jacobson secured a 1-1 draw for League Two Wycombe Wanderers at Adams Park despite captain Micah Richards coolly netting the opener for the Premier League’s bottom club.
AFC Bournemouth needed an 85th-minute winner from sub Glenn Murray to complete a 2-1 comeback win at Birmingham City, while West Brom left it even later against Championship opposition – James Morrison pouncing five minutes into stoppage time to hold Bristol City to a 2-2 draw at the Hawthorns.
Arsenal’s quest for a third consecutive FA Cup triumph began with a 3-1 win over Sunderland, as Joel Campbell, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud responded to Jeremain Lens’ opener.
Manchester City were similarly emphatic as Sergio Aguero, Kelechi Iheanacho and Kevin de Bruyne got the goals in the 3-0 victory at Norwich City.
In Saturday’s other all-Premier League ties Crystal Palace won 2-1 at Southampton and Watford beat Newcastle United 1-0.
A rasping Jon Walters drive saw Stoke City past Doncaster Rovers of League One 2-1, Everton were 2-0 winners over Dagenham and Redbridge, while former Goodison Park striker Nikica Jelavic’s first goal for West Ham sunk Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0.
In the clutch of all-Championship ties, Hull City, Leeds United, Burnley, Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday were winners over Brighton and Hove Albion, Rotherham United, Middlesbrough, Queens Park Rangers and Fulham respectively.
Third tier got the better of second in three instances as Walsall won 1-0 at Brentford, Colchester United beat Charlton Athletic 2-1 and Peterborough United saw off Preston North End 2-0.
Championship promotion-chasers Derby County avoided a slip-up at League Two Hartlepool United as former England striker Darren Bent sealed a 2-1 comeback five minutes from time.
Huddersfield Town and Reading, Ipswich and Portsmouth and Northampton Town and MK Dons will meet again after sharing 2-2 draws.
The game between Bury and Bradford City finished goalless, while a waterlogged pitch meant Newport County versus Blackburn Rovers was postponed.