Chelsea and Tottenham advanced to the last 16 of the English League Cup with victories over second-tier opposition, while defending champion Manchester United eliminated Premier League rival Wolverhampton on Wednesday.
Salomon Kalou scored at the start of the second half to clinch Chelsea’s 1-0 win over west London neighbour Queens Park Rangers, while Peter Crouch scored a hat trick as Tottenham routed Preston 5-1.
The Red Devils played for an hour with 10 men but Danny Welbeck’s second-half strike secured a 1-0 win over Wolves.
Manchester City required captain Kolo Toure’s extra time header to oust Fulham 2-1.
At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea’s 23rd consecutive unbeaten match equalled a club record as Joe Cole captained the side on his return from nine months out with a knee injury.
Cole set up the winner, slipping the ball through to Kalou in the 52nd minute and the Ivory Coast forward cut inside Mikele Leigertwood on the left clipped in off the post.
“I’m very pleased - I helped to make the goal and I should have scored myself,” Cole said. “I’m delighted I wasn’t off the pace and I was among the action, but I’m not getting beyond myself. This is a steppingstone for me. I’ll keep working hard.”
Yuri Zhirkov, who was injured shortly after joining from CSKA Moscow as Chelsea’s only major off-season recruit, made his competitive debut as Carlo Ancelotti made 10 changes from the side that beat Tottenham 3-0 on Sunday.
Tottenham, which beat Chelsea in the 2008 final and reached Wembley Stadium again last season, comfortably dispatched Preston.
Crouch volleyed home Gareth Bale’s cross for a 14th-minute opener and Defoe headed in a second in the 37th after Preston goalkeeper Andy Lonergan saved his initial shot.
Crouch found the target again in the 77th after connecting with Aaron Lennon’s cross. Chris Brown pulled one back for Preston soon after, but Tom Huddlestone surged forward to set up Robbie Keane’s goal and Crouch back-heeled in a fifth.
It was a rare night in Manchester with both United and City playing at home.
United, which beat Tottenham in the March final, had Fabio Da Silva sent off on the half hour when the Brazilian defender bundled over Michael Kightly.
“You can’t argue with the red card, but Fabio is only 18 and this experience will help him grow,” United manager Alex Ferguson said. “Even before we went down to 10 men, Wolves were a threat on the counterattack, but for the last hour we kept our discipline and that was very pleasing.
“That never-say-die attitude runs through this club and the goal was of magnificent quality.”
Welbeck broke the deadlock in the 66th, finishing off a flowing move and tucking his shot comfortably past Marcus Hahnemann.
Despite facing a second-string Fulham, Manchester City manager Mark Hughes named a strong line-up, with just one change from the team that lost 4-3 to United on Sunday.
But Zoltan Gera put Fulham in control of the third-round match in the 34th; picking up a loose ball 30 meters (yards) out and hammering a half-volley beyond goalkeeper Shay Given.
City levelled after the break when Gareth Barry headed in Craig Bellamy’s corner to send the match into extra time, and Toure met Martin Petrov’s inswinging corner to send City through to the competition it last won in 1976.
Everton raced into a 3-0 lead inside 24 minutes at Hull with Ayegbeni Yakubu, making his first start since last November, Jo and Dan Gosling all finding the net. Leon Osman tapped in a fourth from close range in the 57th.
Aston Villa secured its progression past Cardiff after just three minutes when Gabriel Agbonlahor scored for a fourth successive match.