Van Persie sparkles as Arsenal rally past resilient Villa

Van Persie sparkles as Arsenal rally past resilient Villa

 Arsenal scored three goals in a seven-minute burst after halftime against visitors Aston Villa, including two penalties from Robin van Persie, as they staged a dramatic comeback to win 3-2 and reach the FA Cup fifth round on Sunday.

Arsenal trailed 2-0 at the break but Van Persie's spot kicks either side of a Theo Walcott equaliser spun the match on its head at The Emirates and sent Arsene Wenger's side through to a meeting away to either Sunderland or Middlesbrough.

Sunderland were earlier held 1-1 at home by Boro with halftime substitute Fraizer Campbell equalising for the Premier League side after Barry Robson had put the Championship (second division) outfit ahead early on at the Stadium of Light.
Arsenal were booed off at halftime as Villa struck twice with goals by Richard Dunne and Darren Bent.

They were given a lifeline shortly after the break when Dunne brought down midfielder Aaron Ramsey and Van Persie beat Villa keeper Shay Given from the penalty spot.

Three minutes later Walcott made it 2-2 when the ball cannoned back into the net off the England winger from an attempted clearance by Alan Hutton after the Arsenal player's initial effort had been saved by Given.

The comeback was complete in the 61st minute when Bent's mistimed sliding tackle on Laurent Koscielny gave Van Persie the chance to display his penalty-taking prowess again.

In the early kickoff, Middlesbrough had threatened to shock their north-east rivals when Robson volleyed them ahead.

However, Sunderland replied after the break when former Manchester United front man Campbell, playing his first game for 18 months after a serious knee injury, capitalised on a Robson error to earn his side a replay.

Both sides had chances to avoid a replay with chances late on but they will have to lock horns again at the Riverside Stadium to decide who reaches the fifth round.

Liverpool face Brighton

Liverpool's sights are set firmly on a second route to Wembley after being drawn on Sunday at home to Championship (second division) Brighton in the FA Cup fifth round.
Kenny Dalglish's side, who are already through to next month's League Cup final against Cardiff City, beat Manchester United 2-1 at Anfield on Saturday in the fourth round and will be fancied to get past Gus Poyet's Brighton side.

Brighton, who beat Liverpool on the way to the 1983 final before falling on hard times, knocked out Premier League Newcastle United in the biggest upset of the fourth round.
Chelsea will host Birmingham City. If Middlesbrough win the replay against Sunderland at the Riverside there will be no all-Premier League ties in the last 16.

Crawley Town, who are enjoying their first season in the Football League, fly the flag for League Two (fourth division) with a plum tie against last year's runners-up Stoke City.
Another David versus Goliath clash on the weekend of Feb 18-19 is third tier Stevenage's home tie with Premier League title contenders Tottenham Hotspur.