League Two Crawley Town pulled off the biggest upset so far in the FA Cup third round as they claimed a stunning 3-0 win over Leeds United at The People's Pension Stadium in Sussex on Sunday. Marcelo Bielsa's side had not won a cup tie since January 2017 but still nobody could have seriously expected the hosts to stop their Premier League guests from breaking their dry spell, particularly when Leeds deployed a strong side including senior internationals Kalvin Phillips, Rodrigo and Helder Costa.
On occasion in the first half it looked like Leeds' quality would tell as they dominated possession and were denied a penalty when Pablo Hernandez went down in the area. However they turned their 78% possession to just one shot on target in the first 40 minutes, the same tally registered by Crawley.
Sixth in League Two and with three wins from four, Crawley began the second half in fearless fashion, rocking Leeds with two goals in three minutes. The first was a goal that Bielsa himself would have been proud of, a flowing team move finished in emphatic fashion by left-back Nick Tsaroulla.
"What a team performance that was, I'm over the moon," a visibly emotional Tsaroulla said after the win. "I just lost myself in the moment there, it has been a long hard road for me and I'm very proud."
By the 53rd minute Crawley were in the driving seat, Tom Nichols stealing possession from Leeds in their half and sliding a pass into the right channel for Ashley Nadesan. His low drive was well struck but goalkeeper Kiko Casilla ought to have done far better than let the ball flash through his legs.
Despite five changes from Bielsa before the hour Leeds never looked like getting back into the tie, conceding a fourth when they failed to deal with a cross from wide, Casilla parrying Nadesan's shot into the path of Jordan Tunnicliffe to end any hope of a comeback for the Premier League side and secure just the second three-goal win for a fourth tier team against top-flight opposition in the FA Cup.
To pour salt in Leeds' wounds Crawley boss John Yems was able to hand a debut to a high-profile new signing, center-back Mark Wright. The 33-year-old is best known for his appearance in reality TV show The Only Way Is Essex but will find himself part of FA Cup history after featuring in one of the biggest shocks the competition has faced in many years.