Five stand-out moments from the weekend’s football.
1 – The Baggies end winless run
After only being allocated a couple of hundred tickets, many West Brom fans missed out on seeing their side finally end their winless run with a 2-0 win over League Two’s Exeter in the third-round of the FA Cup on Saturday. The Baggies’ last victory came 21 games ago against Accrington in the League Cup competition back in August. On Saturday Saloman Rondon opened the scoring just two minutes into the game and Jay Rodriguez doubled the lead at 25-minutes. There could have been more goals for the Baggies as Rondon had a second goal ruled out for off-side, substitute Hal Robson-Kanu missed a penalty and defender Ahmed Hegazi also had a goal ruled out for off-side in the second-half.
2 – Stoke sack Mark Hughes
Stoke’s 2-1 defeat to League Two’s Coventry in the third-round of the FA Cup on Saturday proved to be the final nail in the coffin for manager Mark Hughes, who was sacked just hours later. It was the third defeat in a row for the Potters after losing 5-0 to Chelsea and 1-0 to Newcastle over New Year. They’ve achieved just three victories over the past three months and currently sit in the first relegation spot in the Premier League table. 54-year-old Hughes was manager of Stoke for four and a half years, making him the fourth longest serving manager at the club.
3 – Barcelona sign Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho
After rumours and leaks it was announced on Saturday that Barcelona will sign Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho for £142m in one of the most expensive transfers off all time. Only Paris Saint-German’s deals for Neymar (£200m) and Kylian Mbappe (potential £165m loan deal) are costlier. It’s been no secret that Coutinho has desired the move for a long time with Liverpool turning down three previous bids from the Camp Nou. Having played in Liverpool’s qualification for the Champions League knockout stage, Coutinho won’t be eligible to play in that competition for Barcelona this season. The Barca boys will be taking on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge next month.
4 – Diego Costa scores before being sent off
Former Chelsea striker Diego Costa made his first start for Atletico Madrid since returning to Spanish football on Saturday, and helped his side to a 2-0 victory over Getafe. Costa was already on a yellow card at 62-minutes before scoring six minutes later. He jumped into the crowd in celebration and was promptly awarded a second yellow and sent off. The 29-year-old left Atletico for Chelsea in 2014. He made his first appearance back at the club when he came off the bench and scored in their 4-0 win over Lleida Esportiu in the Copa del Rey last Wednesday.
5 – Forest knock Arsenal out of FA Cup
FA Cup holders Arsenal have suffered an embarrassing third-round exit when they were beaten 4-2 by Nottingham Forest at City Ground on Sunday. It was the first time the Gunners have gone out at this stage of the competition since 1996 and first time under manager Arsene Wenger. Manager-less Championship side Nottingham Forest, under the guidance of caretaker boss Gary Brazil, went ahead after twenty minutes when Eric Lichaj headed from close range. Per Mertesacker had the much-changed Arsenal side level just three minutes later, but Lichaj was on hand again with an impressive volley to send his team into the dressing room 2-1 up. In the second-half a penalty from Ben Brereton increased Forest’s lead, but Danny Welbeck converted a through-ball to help Arsenal play catch-up. Mathieu Debucy’s tackle from behind awarded Forest another penalty, this time taken by Kieran Dowell who sealed the 4-2 victory. Two quick yellow cards saw Joe Worrall sent off in the last five minutes of the game but Forest were able to hold onto victory.