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Stephen Ireland hits two to save Stoke City's FA blushes

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Stephen Ireland of Stoke celebrates after scoring his side's third goal against Wrexham

Stephen Ireland of Stoke celebrates after scoring his side's third goal against Wrexham

Stephen Ireland of Stoke celebrates after scoring his side's third goal against Wrexham

FORGOTTEN man Stephen Ireland (above) was hailed as a hero by Stoke City after he saved their blushes and put them into the next round of the FA Cup.

With two minutes of normal time left the Premier League side being held 1-1 at home to Wrexham, the Conference outfit taking the lead, but substitute Ireland came off the bench and scored twice to gift Stoke a 3-1 win, Ireland's first goals of the season.

"I thought we were going out, to be honest, but we made a couple of changes and that helped us. We managed to get back on level terms reasonably quickly and then Stephen Ireland showed that craft we have talked about," said Stoke boss Mark Hughes.

Aston Villa, who handed rare starts to Shay Given and Jack Grealish, also left it late to get into the fourth round of the Cup, only beating Championship strugglers Blackpool with an 88th Christian Benteke goal.

"Credit to the players, it's never easy to unlock a team. We had Joe Cole, Christian Benteke and Jack Grealish in there - lots of talented players to make things happen. You just have to be patient with it.

And the goal was great," said Villa manager Paul Lambert.

"Buzzing that Christian saved us. Main thing we're in the hat for the next round! My performance was crap but it a team game n were through!" Grealish said on twitter after the game.


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