A cracking FA Cup quarter final saw Tottenham lose a two goal half-time
lead, but almost take another last minute winner when Jermain Defoe
smashed a shot that rattled the Chelsea bar and came out to leave the
score at 3-3, so it's all down the Lane in eight days
Spurs had a dream start and a highly
successful first half in which they raced to a 3-1 lead and made Jose
Mourinho change his tactics at least three times. Aaron Lennon had
already run across the face of the box and hit a weak shot at Cech
before Tottenham took a fifth minute lead. With Defoe making a
similar run to Defoe's, he played the ball wide for Ghaly, but Lennon
thought it was for him on the edge of the D and nipped it into the area,
where Dimitar Berbatov strode onto it and smashed a shot past Cech which
bulged the net in front of the Chelsea fans.
It was a boost for Spurs to go a goal
ahead, but it was as important to keep Chelsea out at the other end.
The game was surprisingly open, with Defoe playing a ball across the six
yard line which was just too far ahead of Lennon, then Chelsea's first
effort came when a Lampost free-kick was nodded over by Essien, who got
too much on his glanced header. Defoe was a yard away from
Berbatov's low ball in and the little Tottenham striker shot wide when
Zokora played him in. In the early stages, the closest the home
side came was when Robben's low cross hit Dawson's heel and went
agonisingly close to Radek Cerny's near post. In for the thigh
injury to Robinson, Cerny did well and he had little chance with any of
the goals. His handling was sure and he looked untroubled with
crosses or shots.
With 21 minutes on the clock, Chelsea got
a fortunate equaliser. From a Drogba cross, the ball bobbled about the
box and Ballack hit a shot that was going well wide, until Lampost stuck
out a leg and directed it past Cerny and a defender on the line.
It was hardly deserved and represented the first threat on the Tottenham
goal, coming about by chance rather than good play. So, a setback,
but would it be one that Spurs could tackle ?
Within seven minutes, they should it was
one they could overcome. Tainio brought the ball forward and the
ball was played through Ghaly to Lennon on the right. With Defoe
and Berbatov in behind the defenders coming to the near post, it needed
the right delivery, but Lennon played it into the near post and Essien
got to it first. He got to it before Cech and slid the ball into
his own net to make it 2-1 to Spurs. The Chelsea man ended up
limping after his won goal and the Ivorian striker Drogba fell heavily
on his ankle and to leave them with walking wounded, with Shevchenko
left groggy after being bowled over by Dawson's jump for a header.
When the ball went up the Spurs end, it
almost ended up in an own goal there too. Robben jinked round Lee
and his low ball into the six yard box was sliced over the grounded
Cerny by Dawson, but Stalteri was on hand to kick the ball clear from in
front of goal. The Tottenham start shook Mourinho into taking full
back Ferreira off and replacing him with Shaun Wright-Phillips.
This rearranged the Blues formation, but within a couple of minutes
Mourinho had more problems as Tottenham went further ahead.
It was Berbatov, who was chasing back,
who helped Stalteri dispossess Robben, who lay on the floor forlornly
looking for a free-kick. Giving the ball to Ghaly, the Egyptian
moved forward with purpose and ran from 25 yards inside his own half and
when he played a pass through to Lennon, it was intercepted, but went
straight up in the air. As three blue-shirted defenders stood
wondering who would challenge for the ball, Ghaly jumped through them to
chest the ball down and although Lennon and Defoe were in front of him,
he ran past them and played the ball under Cech with the outside of his
right foot to widen the lead.
The goal summed up what is good about
Ghaly and the fact he concedes possession so freely makes it all the
more frustrating when you see what he is capable of. He is also
capable of clattering into players and after about three goes, Mike
Riley decided to produce a yellow card. Then Zokora got one for
his first foul; then after the break Lee got one for his first foul;
then later, Stalteri got booked for a foul. Even later, Cerny got
a yellow for time-wasting. The referee really got out of control
with his cards, as it was not a dirty game, although he failed to give
Lampost a yellow for throwing himself on Defoe late on when he was on
the ground. He did get yellows out for Diarra, Carvalho, Cole and
Kalou as the second half progressed.
Back to the football, a Robben free-kick
was fired in and Essien was on the far post and looked favourite to
score, but somehow missed the target to leave Tottenham 3-1 ahead at the
With Tottenham's propensity to leak
goals, it would have been nice to have had a fourth to give a cushion
against a Chelsea comeback and there were moments when that could have
happened. The first came in the 50th minute, when Zokora's astute
pass through the square Chelsea defence put Lennon through on Cech, but
the Czech kept the ball out with a good low save, although the ball
bounced away to Ghaly, who lifted a delicate cross to the far post,
where Defoe's header was kept out by Cech's reaction save, although he
was put off by the proximity of Cole's studs to his head.
After Diarra's substitution, with
Boulharouz coming on, Chelsea had to change their tactics once more.
Pushing three up front, with three at the back, they were struggling to
find a way past Spurs and to contend with their attacking moves. A
foul by Cole gave Spurs a free-kick outside the box and Berbatov hit the
wall rather than repeated his goal of last Sunday against West Ham.
It was almost the last involvement the ragged Cole made, as he was taken
off, much to his own disbelief, to be replaced by striker Kalou.
The substitute's first intervention was
to stop his side getting to 3-2, as he got in the way of Carvalho's shot
following some pinball in the box following a corner. The ball
looked to be heading inside the post, until it struck the striker and
came out to be cleared. Kalou's second bit of action saw him get
the ball in the net, but use his hand and pick up a yellow card for
cheating. It is something that Robben might have joined him in, as
he produced the least convincing dive seen for quite a while in a vain
attempt to win a penalty, but RiIley did not see it as a yellow card
offence. Mido was introduced in Berbatov's place, as the Bulgarian
was suffering with a groin strain, but his replacement had a game where
he looked as though he was not at the races.
With 20 minutes left, Chelsea finally got
a goal to bring the margin down to one goal. Spurs had been tiring
and without Kalou in the way, when a corner dropped to Ballack and his
shot was blocked, Lampost was once more on hand to score from close
range. With a more attacking mentality, Tottenham had taken the
game to Chelsea. Now the emphasis was on dropping deeper and
threatening the Blues goal less often, which meant that the ball kept
coming back towards the Tottenham goal. Lennon left the fray as he
looked tired and Malbranque came on, but could not get into the game, as
the tide was flowing in the opposite direction.
Zokora and Essien exchanged 25 yard
efforts that did not possess much threat and when Gardner came on for
Ghaly, it looked a good move to prevent the Egyptian getting sent off,
but unbalanced the side even more, as Lee moved into midfield.
Drogba looked to match up with Gardner, as he knew he had the physical
strength advantage over the Spurs sub, whereas, against Dawson, he had
not been getting much joy.
And so it proved, when four minutes from
time, he won the ball at the far side of the area and headed down to
where Kalou stood and he had time to turn his volley past Cerny for the
third Chelsea goal. It was a blow, but not one which hadn't been
coming. The way Tottenham have been playing lately has seen them
score quite a few, but let almost an equal number in. This time it
But a last minute goal would not have
been unfamiliar territory either for Tottenham. So, when Defoe set
of on an 88th minute run, he looked tired, with a number of blue shirts
ahead of him. But he kept going, broke through two players
tackling him and chested the ball into the area, where he unleashed a
ferocious shot that had Cech beaten all ends up, but it did not beat the
crossbar, which shook with terror after it kept his drive out.
Into added time, it was just a question
of trying to hang on. Most of the players had given their all and
were knackered after the exertions of the Braga match just three days
before. They did well to limit Chelsea to two long range efforts.
One from Shevchenko went well over and Lampost's went wide, while Defoe
laid the ball into Zokora's path and he chose to cut inside and shoot
rather than give an easy path to a better positioned Malbranque on the
right side of the area and the chance was easily saved.
Still, at least we have another chance
now at home, although many might think that this was our best chance to
get a result and they would have been right. Jol rested some of
the players by substituting them with Wednesday night's game in mind and
with Robinson, Keane and Jenas to come back, it might be an interesting