Fulham 2 West Bromwich Albion 3 (after extra time)
Junichi Inamoto staked his claim to become a first team regular at Albion in dramatic fashion last night as he scored a fantastic goal to seal an extra-time victory at Fulham.
The Japanese international hasn't started a first team fixture since the opening day of the season, but returned from cold storage to ignite Albion's Carling Cup hopes in a thrilling five-goal encounter.
However, Albion's evening was blighted as Paul Robinson was sent off in the final minute after an altercation with Zat Knight that can only have been for foul and abusive language and could land him with a three game ban.
It was a momentous occasion for Albion, as it was only the second time they have reached the fourth round in the last 16 years and gave them their first away win of the campaign.
Albion led on three occasions but were pegged back until Inamoto's 30-yard strike broke Fulham's hearts and sent Albion into the last 16.
The travelling supporters made their feelings known with a chorus of "Inamoto - every week," and Robson will find it hard to drop the gifted midfielder after he showed the necessary steel to be a success in the Premiership.
And Robson admitted he was delighted with Inamoto's performance. "I was really pleased with Inamoto and it was the best game he has had since I came to the club," he said. "He put everything we have told him into his game, worked hard and scored a cracking goal.
"But I found the sending off unbelievable and when I tried to speak to the referee he slammed the door in my face."
Rob Earnshaw also enjoyed his first start since the defeat against Charlton as he scored his third goal in this competition that set the benchmark for an entertaining encounter.
Luis Boa Morte equalised before Kanu and Heidar Helguson traded goals to set the scene for Inamoto's late winner. He was one of six changes made by Robson from the side that lost at Bolton as he utilised his squad to the full to compensate for a host of unavailable players.
Albion had the best possible start when Earnshaw scored a typical poacher's goal after three minutes. Inamoto latched on to a headed clearance and executed a sublime pass that wrong-footed Zat Knight and set the diminutive striker free on goal.
He bore down on Tony Warner's goal before drawing the keeper and producing a confident left-foot chip that nestled in the bottom corner of the net.
It set the tone for an impressive opening from Robson's men. Inamoto and the recalled Ronnie Wallwork were controlling the midfield and with Earnshaw's pace causing Fulham's labouring back line problems they almost doubled their lead seven minutes before the interval.
Darren Carter's far post cross was headed back into the danger area by Kamara to Kanu six yards from goal; his looping header saw Warner backpedal furiously before tipping the ball away for a corner.
And Albion's profligacy in front of goal proved damaging when Boa Morte restored parity against the run of play. It was a strike that mirrored Earnshaw's first half effort in its simplicity, but the slack defending won't have pleased Robson. Malbranque threaded a straight ball through the heart of Albion's back line and Boa Morte, cutting in from the left wing, was able to take his time before slotting home past the exposed Kuszczak.
However, Albion rode the storm and appeared to have secured their place in the fourth round after Warner's shocking first touch from a Diop back pass allowed Kanu to ghost in and roll the ball into an empty net.
But Albion's set-piece frailties left Robson exasperated, as with 92 minutes already on the clock, Heidar Helguson glanced in Boa Morte's freekick to send the game into extra time.
Albion were far from finished though and, on a night of high drama, took the lead for the third time when Inamoto struck a thunderous drive from fully 30 yards to leave Warner standing in awe as it flew into the top corner.