Against not only a team who had a 10 out of 10 home record, but also a
team of officials who showed they were not up to the task of taking
control of a major match. It might have spoiled the cup tie, but
Tottenham overcame the loss of a man to go through 2-0 with a controlled
When the game started,
there was little to signify what was to come.
With Tottenham pushing forward towards
the City goal, it was Dimitar Berbatov who slipped a pass beyond Garrido
for Aaron Lennon to race past the defender he had such joy against at
White Hart Lane last week. In a good position, Aaron delivered a
measured cross across the face of the six yard box for Jermain Defoe to
knock the ball home with great ease. It was a simple, but well
worked move that opened up the City defence with little trouble with
five minutes gone.
The attacking intent almost paid off with
Steed getting on the end of Lennon's pull back, but let indecision get
the better of him and tried to lay it off to Defoe instead of shooting
himself. The referee - Bennett of Kent - ignored the contact on
Jenas as he approached the penalty area and later in the half when the
same thing happened in the penalty box, he booked Jermaine for diving !!
With Bianchi throwing himself to ground
at almost every possible occasion, it was surprising that it was
Tottenham who received the first card of the game for a two footed, but
low tackle by Zokora. It was all the more surprising that Bennett
brought out the red for the Ivorian's first foul. It was not just
that we lost Didier for the rest of this match, but also for other games
to come when we are down to the last few defenders at the club.
Things might have been a lot worse, when Steed Malbranque performed a
similar, but possibly worse tackle and only picked up a yellow card.
The dismissal meant that a reorganisation
had to take place and with great disgust, it was Defoe who had to trek
to the touchline, while Teemu Tainio came on to go to right back, with
Chimbonda moving inside to replace Zokora. The change didn't
affect Spurs that much, as they moved the ball around and kept it going
in the right direction. Lennon's effort was blocked and came out
to Berbatov, who struck for goal, but Corluka got enough on it to take
the bal lover the bar.
The play was moving quickly now, with
Petrov racing away and his cheeky ball through gave Elano the
opportunity to get something on target, but he prodded the ball wide and
when Bianchi did manage to stay on his feet, he was just short of
reaching Johnson's cross coming in from the left wing. With Spurs
shorn of Defoe, it was important that Dimitar put in a game the like of
which we know he can put in. His performance showed that he could
play the lone striker role, with great control and a bit of pace when he
wanted. He quickly took a ball past Dunne and raced past Corluka
before Micah Richards raced over to dispossess him.
There was one late chance for the home
team as Garrido knocked a cross to the far post and Bianchi headed it
back to Martin Petrov and he struck a volley over the top.
The half time whistle gave Tottenham the
break they needed and the second half started with both teams unchanged.
It was expected that City would throw themselves into attacking
Tottenham, but when Richards lined up a shot it looked dangerous, but it
ended up going off for a Spurs throw-in. It looked even more
worrying when Michael Johnson burst into the penalty area and went down
under a challenge, but all he ended up getting was a booking for diving,
when he over-balanced and was not looking to seek an advantage, although
with this official, anything could have happened.
The pressure built and when it was
needed, Paul Robinson came up with a fine save to keep Man. City out.
As Darius Vassell met the ball from eight yards out, his header looked a
goal all over, but Robinson produced a reflex save to stop the ball.
Petrov fired another volley over the top, then, with 64 minutes gone,
Chimbonda rashly flew into a tackle and took Richard Dunne out in the
box, but Bennett wouldn't know a decision if it was made for him and
waved play on.
Tottenham still enjoyed a lion's share of
possession and Jenas blasted over, when Steed played him in and perhaps
should have made Hart work. When Lennon broke away with the Man
City half in front of him to run into, Elano bundled him over with
little effort for the ball and picked up a yellow card for his cynicism.
With Mpenza and Geovanni on for City, they looked to go for the
equaliser, but the play of the side was nothing more enterprising than
they showed at White Hart Lane in the league encounter.
That gave Spurs the enthusiasm to go
forward and produce a fantastic passing move through Lennon, Berbatov
and Malbranque, with the latter ending the move with a shot that
deflected wide for a corner. It was Lennon's last action, as he
was taken off with Jamie O'Hara coming on to take his place on the left
side of midfield. Berbatov was holding the ball up front, with
players all around him, but his skill and body movement to shield the
ball, held off players when it looked like he was heavily out-numbered.
When City finally broke through, Robinson
was there again to deny them. Richards put in a ball to the back
stick and Bianchi came in to plant a header on goal, but Robbo pulled
off a save, where he pushed the ball upwards and Younes Kaboul completed
the clearance as the ball might have crept over the line. Kaboul
had a game where he kept things simple and looked all the better for it.
Then, when it looked like Spurs were
tiring, having played an hour with ten men, Berbatov slipped the ball
inside to Jamie O'Hara. The midfielder's run took him away from
the City defenders and played the ball across the box to Steed
Malbranque, who beat the tackle of Dunne and slotted the ball past Hart
to score the Spurs second and ensure that a semi-final place was theirs,
with just eight minutes of normal time left.
Would City be able to produce a
grandstand finish, with Spurs famous this season fro their last minute
jitters ? Well, Elano tried to smash the ball as hard as he could
and lifted it over the bar, while it was Tottenham who came closest to
hitting the net, with Berba drilling in a shot that Hart did well to
There was a calmness about Tottenham's
performance and it might signal the effect that Juande Ramos is having
on the team. His insistence that the team play the same way
whether they are winning or losing might give them some belief when it
yields results and with one defeat in ten, he has had an immediate
response. Worse times will come, with Arsenal on Saturday, having
rested their first-teamers and play their youngsters tonight in their
With ten men having to run for 70
minutes, it will be a tough task for Spurs to get back up for the game
at the weekend, especially with another defender being unavailable, with
Zokora's red card. It might be a case of the last man standing who
gets to play, but if they play like this, then it might not be a bad
THE HEATHROW SPUR