Eleven years to the day when Spurs lost to Newcastle United at Old
Trafford in the FA Cup semi-final, so a repeat happened under the
Wembley arch, with Tottenham crashing out of the competition to
With a pitch that had a
top surface looser than a Portsmouth budget, the game looked to be
played at a much slower and more cautious pace than perhaps Tottenham
would have preferred. With David Bentley picked ahead of Niko
Kranjcar, the aim must have been to put in the crossed to trouble
Portsmouth in the air and get Peter Crouch to be the main target.
The return of Jermain Defoe would also have hoped to carry a bit more of
a threat than he actually produced on the day.
Spurs had the lions' share of the
possession and almost three times as many effort son goal as Pompey, but
in the end, the score-line was the all important factor and that went
2-0 to the club relegated to the Championship the day before.
Too often, good moves broke down with a
poor final ball or ended with a cross into the area that lacked any sort
of threat. Too many 'nothing' balls were just helped into the box
without trying to pick out a white shirt and thus it was fairly
comfortable for Portsmouth to cope with. In the first half, James
had to make few difficult saves and only a measured shot from
Huddlestone and a header from Crouch caused him to hurry, tipping the
first over the bar and the other catching in mid-air. Perhaps his
most worrying moment came from one of numerous corners, when he fumbled
the ball against Mokoena and the ball bounced back towards goal and he
was relieved to see the ball go just wide of the post.
Defoe was getting little service and the
closest he came was seizing on a knock down in the box, but he was
leaning back as he got to it and the ball went over from five yards out.
Modric was also finding it hard to get through the Pompey midfield, when
they dropped a man back in front of the back four and then Dindane held
a right side midfield position, to help crowd that part of the pitch.
However, he made his way into the box on the right side to dip a shot a
little too late and the ball flew over the bar.
Bale was less than confident on the left
wing from full back, as his footing went a couple of times from
underneath him and his effectiveness was therefore limited. It
left Spurs caught on the break and with 36 minutes gone, Piquionne broke
upfield to hit a shot to Gomes left as he came in from that flank and
the keeper did well to get his arm down to beat it out. Spurs had
a little flurry of opportunities in front of goal at the end of the
half, with Crouch and Bentley had shots blocked, but there was little
real chance there.
At half-time, the men and women with
rakes came out to try and repair the pitch, but the presence of ten men
stomping around the penalty area during a fans penalty shoot-out did
little to entertain the crowd nor to improve the state of the pitch.
With no changes at the break, Tottenham
continued to attack, but there was little tempo to their game and it is
this high pressure style of play which has caused other teams problems
this season. Within a minute, Crouch knocked the ball on for JD to
hit a shot at goal, but Ricardo Rocha blocked the ball into the air and
it was cleared by a team-mate. Piquionne had another good chance
with ten minutes of the second half gone, but his header to Dindane's
cross lacked any real conviction and Gomes saved with ease. The
game went straight up the other end and Crouch once more set up Defoe,
but his first time shot lacked any sort of good contact and the ball
bobbled through to James. it was his last involvement, as
Pavlyuchenko came on to take his place in attack.
A corner from Bentley at last eluded
James and the keeper got under the ball, leaving Crouch at the far post
to head unmarked, but he missed the target and then he met a low ball in
from Bale, but could not beat Mokoena, who got a block on his near port
shot. 15 minutes from time, Bale's far post cross found Crouch
doing well to wrap his head around, managing to get the ball to hit the
outside of the post, when he would have done very well to score from
such an acute angle. Right on full time, Crouch was there again to
try to beat James at the near post as Bale's low cross was played in,
but the keeper got something on the ball to keep it out.
So, the final whistle brought an extra
half-hour. Possibly not the greatest thing for Spurs with their
next three games against Arsenal on Wednesday, Chelsea on Saturday and
Manchester United on the following Saturday. After three minutes,
Pav broke through to take advantage of some hesitancy by Rocha in the
air and ran on to shoot at goal, but his effort went well over.
However, within a minute the ball was in the net. The Tottenham
A free-kick that appeared to be for very
little gave Pompey the chance to lift the ball into the box and as it
was knocked on by Dindane, Michael Dawson went to move towards the ball
and slipped, leaving Piquionne to knock the ball past a similarly
slipping Gomes. It was a goal that Portsmouth might have had
during normal time, whereas Spurs looked to be having one of those days
(Stoke, Wolverhampton Wanderers) when they looked like they could play
all night and not score. Five minutes before the break and Spurs
almost got straight back into it, with Roman's low ball across goal
touched goal-wards by Peter Crouch, but his effort hit the woodwork.
Worse was to come a minute later, when Spurs finally did get through the
Portsmouth defence. Bale's cross was touched on by Kranjcar, with
James in no-man's-land and Crouch smashed home the ball in the centre of
the goal from a couple of yards out. But there was little need to
get too excited, as referee Wiley, who had a poor all round match with
little advantage played and getting the big decisions wrong, had already
blown for a foul. TV showed this was a big mistake and David James
grinned into the back of the net to show he knew he had been given a
In the second period of extra time, Spurs
were even more susceptible to the counter-attack and Luka Modric ran the
whole length of the field to intercept a Utaka pass, when they had two
on one at the Spurs end. A Bale cross that made it beyond the far
post did find a white shirt there, but unfortunately, it was Vedran
Corluka and the defender hit his shot straight at a defender in front of
him. If it had fallen to another player, there might have been a
Once more, following a good attack, Spurs
found themselves picking the ball out of the net. Another
breakaway saw Dindane race away and with Palacios catching him up, the
Honduran put in a tackle that saw the Pompey striker sprawl and Wiley
point to the spot. Palacios got a yellow card and misses the next
two games. You might have thought he would have been sent off as
the last man and Dindane bearing down on goal, but Boateng stepped up to
convert the spot-kick and put Spurs out of the Cup. In the last
minute of extra time, Gomes did well to keep out a shot by Utaka as
Spurs pushed everyone forward.
So, Pompey may be down from the
Premiership, but at least they are not out of the Cup.
For Spurs, the result at Sunderland and
this one at Wembley could be the ones that define their season, rather
than the somewhat harder ones now facing them in the Premier League.