Two Robbie Keane volleys and two pieces of sublime
finishing from substitute Dimitar Berbatov saw off the limp challenge
from Fulham as Tottenham eased through to the FA Cup Sixth Round.
The game started too frenetically, with
Fulham once more targeting Steed Malbranque for the physical treatment.
Radzinski early shot was blocked for a corner, but when the ball was
played back to Paul Robinson in the fifth minute, little did we foresee
that the goal that would shape the game would come. Route One was
taken, with Robbo's kick, Mido's flick and Robbie made the Cottagers
sick with a thumping volley that left Lastuvka helpless to stop the
fierce shot. It was just the start that Tottenham needed.
For that point on they went on to dictate
the game and even though Fulham had some spells of possession and ENO
had to make three good saves, the team were never really in any danger
of going out of the cup.
The long diagonal ball to match a taller
forward up against YP Lee tried to put the ball into the danger area for
someone to run onto, but the Korean did well and when he didn't win the
ball, colleagues were in the middle to clear.
Lennon proved to be a useful out ball for
Spurs, with his nimble feet taking him away from Diop and Queudrue
before they clattered him to the floor and got yellow cards for their
trouble. At the other end, McBride managed to turn onto a dropping
ball and his deflected shot was palmed over the top by Robinson.
One of the best chances for Fulham was Spurs made. Mido played a
high back-pass from near the halfway line and it left Robbo with no
chance to do much with, other than hack into touch. From the long
throw by Simon Davies, Mido, back defending, managed to head towards
goal and the Spurs goalie had to dive low to get a hand to it and keep
it out. He showed his displeasure with the Egyptian in no
uncertain terms !!
When he had returned to where Robinson
suggested he should go, he played a 1-2 with Lee and with two players in
the box, he decided to shoot powerfully, but too high, at the near top
corner of the goal.
Fulham obviously got a strong talking to
at the break, with a new urgency about them when they started the second
half. Tainio did well to get his head to a loose ball in the area,
but Knight tried an overhead kick at the same time and got the Finn in
the shoulder with his boot. Robbo was busier in the second half,
as he caught a McBride effort from long range, pushed a shot from Volz
over the top, beat out a bouncing volley by Diop, mis-punched a corner
to the far post, but Tainio headed over his own bar to deny the home
side a scoring opportunity.
Paul then turned provider, when he took a
corner and played a flat kick upfield to Aaron Lennon, who got in a shot
that Lastuvka pushed aside for a corner at the other end. With
Dawson and Gardner looking secure in the middle of defence, Spurs looked
like they could absorb the pressure coming through the Fulham attack
even though it was switched to bring Montella and John into the action.
With 67 minutes on the clock, Gardner
launched a free-kick forward and Mido flicked it on once more, leaving
Keane to smash another volley even harder past the Fulham keeper.
It was deja vu all over again !!
When Mido was replaced by Berbatov in the
73rd minute, it looked as though Martin Jol was happy that the two goal
cushion would be enough, relying on the team's attacking ability rather
than trying to sit back and defend the two goal lead. Within five
minutes, he was proved right. Zokora did what he does best;
picking the ball up in his own half and racing forward, leaving players
in his wake and then releasing Berba on the left. He cut inside
Knight to strike a shot that caught a deflection, but hit the bottom of
the right hand post. It bounced back across goal to where Dimitar
had reacted quickest and he looked lazy as he swung a left foot at it to
put it past the Czech goalie for goal number three.
The way Spurs were going at Fulham now it
was a question of how many, as Lastuvka took Lennon's legs as he went
past him wide near the dead ball line, without getting a penalty given.
Then Tainio put Keane through on the keeper to complete his hat-trick,
but with time to think about it, Robbie allowed the goalie to close him
down and the chance was lost. It was Berbatov who got the fourth
to wrap things up, when he took a flick from Keane and cheekily lofted a
lob over the keeper from around the penalty area with nobody around him,
but being definitely onside.
The scoring might have finished, but when
Robbie chased Montella in midfield and hassled him, the Italian swung
round with an elbow into Keane's cheek. Robbie's response was to
ask the Roma man to see him outside, but the ref sent him on his way
before any more fisticuffs could arise. Keane got a yellow for his
(innocent) part in the incident.
It was a comprehensive win and one which
begs the question why Tottenham could not play like this away from home
more often. Maybe the Cups are the competitions for Tottenham this
season and with the big three still in the FA Cup, if we can avoid them
in tomorrow's draw, we might be OK for a semi-final berth at least.