Last-minute winners, unexpected victories, the perfect hat-trick and record-breaking moments; the Third Round of the EFL Cup certainly met the high expectations set from the previous two rounds.Before a third-round ball was kicked, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp ensured his thoughts were crystal clear on the importance of EFL Cup to his team’s season.
Klopp, who won four domestic trophies during his time in Germany with Borussia Dortmund, said: "This is a very important tournament for us, for the players, and we have to show it from the first second. Let's go for it.”
And go for it they did, as the eight-time Cup winners saw off Derby County 3-0 to progress comfortably. Their reward is a potentially memorable night at Anfield, as Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur visit in just one of a handful of high-profile Round Four ties.
Liverpool’s North West neighbours Manchester United ended a run of three straight defeats in front of a record-breaking crowd at Northampton Town. Led by England captain Wayne Rooney, United’s squad showed its class with more than 650 international caps between them.
Striker Marcus Rashford continued his trend of scoring on his competition debuts, with a second-half strike on his inaugural appearance in the EFL Cup. The youngster will need to be on form again in the next round, with Manchester City sitting between United and the quarter-finals.
The global theme wasn’t unique to Jose Mourinho’s team selection, though, as more than 100 international footballers featured across the 16 Round Three matches, with numerous World Cup and European Championship winners on show.
Team of the Round: A selection of standout performers in Round Three
One man who has won both the of the major international honours, Cesc Fabregas, inspired Chelsea to victory at Leicester City in a battle between the last two Premier League winners with two extra-time goals.
Nearly 30,000 spectators watched the two top-flight sides battle it out at the King Power Stadium, with a similar number turning out at Goodison Park to watch Sky Bet Championship outfit Norwich City provide one of the shocks of the round. The Canaries beat Everton 2-0, much to the dismay of Toffees boss Ronald Koeman.
That attendance was topped in the North East however, as more than 34,700 fans watched Newcastle United book their place in the next round with victory against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Staying with the Championship theme, Preston North End striker Simon Makienok scored the round’s only hat-trick to seal a tie at Newcastle.
The London Stadium also hosted its first ever EFL Cup action as West Ham United faced Accrington Stanley, boasting the largest attendance of the round, with 39,877 fans watching on.
And they were not left disappointed as French international Dimitri Payet, who was named in the EURO 2016 team of the tournament, scored the 50th and final goal of the round, with a trademark free-kick to knock out a spirited Stanley.
The reward for Slaven Bilic’s men is another home tie, this time against London rivals Chelsea, while there's another all-Premier League match-up down south - Southampton versus Sunderland at St Mary's.
Elsewhere, Championship sides Reading and Bristol City will take on high-profile opposition in Arsenal and Hull City respectively, while Leeds United, who knocked out Blackburn Rovers in Round Three, take on Norwich.
Games are scheduled for Tuesday 25th and Wednesday 26th October, with a place in the last eight up for grabs.
EFL Cup Round Four ties confirmed
EFL CupRound Three quickfire stats:
• A combined total of 306,418 spectators watched the 16 Round Three ties
• 50 goals were scored across the two nights of action
• More than 100 international footballers took to the pitch
• Six Sky Bet Championship teams reached Round Four of the competition