Mario Stanic sent last year's runners-up, Chelsea, safely through to the fourth round with a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough at Stamford Bridge as a tame tie exploded into life when Chelsea goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini was controversially sent off after 62 minutes.
Chelsea dominated the first half against away-from-home flops Middlesbrough and led by Stanic's well-taken goal after 38 minutes.
But referee Mark Halsey and his assistant Paul Vosper added some good old FA Cup controversy to the game to set up an exciting final 25 minutes.
The talking point came after Franck Queudrue curled a free kick into the goalmouth and Dean Windass bundled Cudicini into the back of the net as the Italian caught the ball.
An ugly goalmouth melee ensued as players from both sides piled in, but order was eventually restored. Then, after consulting his assistant, the referee booked Windass and amazingly showed the red card to Cudicini for his retaliation, although television replays failed to spot exactly what Mr Vosper had seen from the right-hand touchline.
After a five minute delay in which Chelsea protested at the decision, Dutchman Ed De Goey came off the bench to take his place in goal, with Gudjohnsen being sacrificed.
Middlesbrough stepped up the pressure against the 10 men, but Steve McClaren's team came into this game on the back of eight successive defeats and having failed to score away from home in more than 11 hours of Premiership football.
Chelsea held on to their lead and although they failed to match the 2-0 scoreline by which they beat Boro in the 1997 FA Cup final, they did equal the result when the teams met at Stamford Bridge in the Premiership in November.
There was no clue of what was to come at the start of the afternoon when the main talking point was the fact that McClaren dropped strikers Massimo Maccarone and Alen Boksic.
Despite the freezing conditions the state of Chelsea's pitch - which is being relaid after next Saturday's game against Charlton - made the early stages resemble beach football with its unpredictable bounce.
The first decent chance fell to Chelsea after six minutes when Frank Lampard latched on to Jesper Gronkjaer's inside pass, but his shot was not a clean one and presented no problem for Boro goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.
The home side won a corner a minute later and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's cross from the left found Stanic unmarked on the six yard line, but he sent a downward header wide of the near post.
Gronkjaer was the brightest player on the pitch but was a little greedy at the end of a great run after 18 minutes. He cut in from the right and blasted the ball over the bar from a tight angle as his team-mates queued up in the box.
Two minutes later Gronkjaer was left holding his head in disbelief as another chance went begging. Gudjohnsen crossed from the left and the winger poked the ball past Schwarzer from six yards but also beyond the near post.
Gudjohnsen made good use of the ball as he held up play after 36 minutes before feeding a sweet pass into the path of William Gallas as he charged in from the right flank. But the French defender blasted a poor shot wide of the far post when he should at least have hit the target.
Chelsea finally scored the goal their domination had promised as Hasselbaink unselfishly teed-up Stanic on the left edge of the box and he beat Schwarzer with a low drive inside his near post.
The second half started with a similar pattern to the first and Chelsea were still in control until the game exploded in controversial fashion.
Boro stepped up the pressure but still failed to find a way on to the scoresheet. Chelsea were still dangerous on the break and substitute Boudewijn Zenden ended a great run down the left after 83 minutes with a low shot which was inches wide of the far post.
With three minutes remaining, De Goey came to the rescue with a fine save to deny Geremi, and Boro's ninth successive defeat meant an early exit from the competition in which they reached the semi-finals last season.
Claudio Ranieri said Chelsea would be appealing against the red card handed
out to goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini during their 1-0 victory over Middlesbrough in
the FA Cup third round.
'From the bench I couldn't see anything but television has given me the
opportunity to watch the incident and Carlo didn't touch Windass,' said Blues
'Carlo was knocked to the floor, he stood up, looked at his opponent and the
referee arrived. I don't know what the linesman saw. Carlo used only his eyes,
so they must be very dangerous!
'There is no point speaking to the referee now but we are going to appeal
because television is very clear and I am confident the video will clear Carlo. I thought at the time it was very strange because Carlo is a very loyal man
who would not act in that way.'
Boro boss Steve McClaren also failed to see the incident clearly from the
dug-out, but backed the challenge made by his burly striker.
'I didn't see it because there were too many players around so I cannot
comment,' said McClaren. 'But I thought it was a fair challenge.
'The FA Cup is all about passion, commitment and character and Dean Windass
epitomised that today and the rest of my players followed him. It was frustrating again today because we lost 1-0 again yet I cannot fault
my players and we came out of it with a lot of pride.
'I am very disappointed to be out of the FA Cup but I saw things today which
showed that my youngsters are coming together as a team.'