What should have been a routine exercise as detailed above, turned into
a match of vigour and skill, with two moments of goal-scoring ability
settling the tie in Tottenham's favour at the fag-end of the 120 minutes
of action the night brought courtesy of Burnley's well-deserved 3-0
score-line at the end of the regulatory 90 minutes.
That Tottenham threw away the three goal
lead was bad enough, but the nature of the performance was more of a
concern, although it was a makeshift side that Redknapp fielded because
of injuries to key players.
With injuries to Bent, Jenas, Corluka,
Gomes, King and Lennon, it was a side with several players who had not
featured lately. And it showed, as Spurs had to hold onto the ball
to keep Burnley away form goal and failed to achieve that aim.
While the Clarets dominated the early
possession, it was not too much to worry Spurs, as they failed to
trouble the Tottenham goal. There was early involvement for
debutant keeper Ben Alnwick, as he slid out to grab the ball from the
on-running Paterson, before he had to leap up to palm away a vicious
clearance-cum-shot that Benoit Assou-Ekotto fired high towards his own
goal. Appeals for a back-pass being handled were waved away and it
was hardly the sort of back-pass any keeper might have expected.
Then Spurs strung a few passes together
and Defoe was set free and the striker hit a low shot from outside the
box, which Jensen got down to, but unconvincingly pushed aside for a
corner. From that dead ball, Woodgate got a header to the ball,
but could not keep it down. The same happened when Modric got on
the end of a cross by Chris Gunter. Bentley was trying to prove he
can be an effective player, but tackling is not one of his great assets
and he was booked for a late tackle on Eagles.
Burnley had a good spell of possession,
as Spurs kept mis-placing their passes and it ended with Eagles having a
shot that Jonathan Woodgate got in the way of before the same Tottenham
defender was penalised as Paterson backed into him. Being 30 yards
out, Alnwick lined up a two man wall and shaped as though he was
expecting a cross from Robbie Blake, who stepped up to take the
free-kick. But the Burnley striker had seen Alnwick's movement and
slammed his shot the near post side of the wall and the ball flew into
the net, with the goalie unable to recover the ground to get anything on
Spurs had held out for 34 minutes and now
needed to get to half-time without conceding again. McCann was
just one of the home players who hit Bentley with a tough tackle and he
got a yellow card for his effort, but when the ball came into the
penalty area from Bentley, it landed on Woodgate's head, but he put it
straight at Jensen, whereas anywhere else and it would have been a goal.
With the rain lashing down and a chill
wind blowing through Turf Moor, it was not an enticing atmosphere that
greeted Tottenham for the second half. Especially as the pressure
was being applied and Assou-Ekotto conceded an early corner. It
was cleared and when Tottenham got on the attack, it was Defoe who
passed inside to Luka Modric, who hit his shot early and with Jensen
rooted to the spot, he was relieved to see the ball fly over the bar.
Further problems hit the Spurs team as Jamie O'Hara limped off and he
was replaced on the left side of midfield by Gareth Bale. And it
was the sub who was released down the left by Huddlestone just after the
hour. The Welshman darted down the channel into the box and with
the goal guarded by Jensen, he hit a shot across the goal rather than on
Modric was spared any further involvement
when Pavlyuchenko replaced him. It was not the sort of game in
which Modric would shine, but he applied himself well and made some
telling contributions. Jermain Defoe showed what a nuisance he
could be, when he robbed Clarke Carlisle and took the ball into the box,
but it just bounced off his shin through to the keeper. Duff
completed a tie to remember when he was booked for another foul to go
with his booking and own goal in the first leg.
Blake had already had one run up the left
to set up Paterson, but he did not connect with his shot properly.
Then his run past Gunter and Dawson saw him put the ball right across
the six yard box (as Eagles had done for the first goal at the Lane),
where Chris McCann came in at the far post to make a simple conversion
of the chance. 2-0 on the night meant 3-4 on aggregate, so another
goal would take the tie to extra time.
Tottenham needed to move up a gear, but
it was hard when they had little possession and the players were not
moving as well as they can. Tom Huddlestone had a game to forget
with little effect on it, although the midfield was often by-passed by
Burnley, so he ended up spinning around to see where the play had come
from and gone to. With just about fifteen minutes to go,
Pavlyuchenko should have wrapped it up from just outside the six yard
box, but Bale's cross hit his standing leg and bounced away from goal.
With ten minutes remaining, Burnley
brought on lucky mascot Rodriguez and they were going all out for the
goal which would equalise the tie after 180 minutes. But it was
Spurs who nearly won it with six minutes left. Bale raced in from
the left to hit s shot that the goalie saved, but the ball fell out to
Defoe and Jensen dived bravely at his feet to thwart him.
Within four minutes, all hell broke
loose. Another cheap free-kick was awarded the home side's way and
Blake crossed this one in form 40 yards out. Alnwick decided to
come for it and as he did, his own defenders and some Burnley players
got underneath him and he could only knock the ball down for Rodriguez
to volley the ball into an unguarded net. 3-0. As all the
views were that Spurs would be at Wembley, it all seemed to be going
wrong. Third shot on target and third goal.
In added time at the end of the 90,
Zokora played a long ball forward and Pav brought it down, before
hitting a long range effort that deflected wide. In that moment
the tie might have been won. Bu the final whistle blew and with
away goals only counting after extra time, an additional 30 minutes
faced both sides.
The first shot of extra time saw
Huddlestone draw a diving stop from Jensen, before Adel Taarabt was
introduced for Chris Gunter. Roman tried his luck from 20 yards as
well and this time the keeper saved more comfortably. Burnley
brought on Ade Akinbiyi for Paterson and the idea was to hit the long
ball for him to chase after and make a nuisance of himself. It
didn't seem to help, as the passes to him were either too long or he
lost the ball because of poor control of a good challenge.
The second period of extra time started
much the same as the first, with Gareth Bale testing Jensen from a tight
angle, then Pavlyuchenko tried to cross but it landed on the roof of the
net, before Taarabt decided to try his luck from more than 30 yards out,
but a deflection took the sting out of the drive on goal. Taarabt
was taking the ball to Burnley and he seems to have grasped the concept
of passing, as he put Pavlyuchenko through and also managed to get a
couple of step-overs in for good measure. It wouldn't be the same
if he didn't.
Time was almost up and with no sign of a
goal coming from anywhere, Redknapp, Bond and Clive Allen all looked
frustrated on the sideline. Two minutes from time, the ball was
played into Defoe, who was cleaned out as he laid it off to Bale on the
left wing. He passed inside into the area and found Assou-Ekotto,
who squared the ball to Roman Pavlyuchenko to side-foot home past Jensen
to maintain his record of scoring in every round of the competition.
It was a goal out of keeping with all that had gone before for
Tottenham, but one which no Spurs fan will complain about.
Burnley had set to to defend what they
had in extra time, not a bad tactic with Spurs not looking like scoring,
but they tired as time went on and you are only one second away from a
clinical finish and an exit from the Cup.
As it turned out, they were two seconds
away from clinical finishes, which Tottenham had been lacking in their
previous 18 efforts on goal. Pavlyuchenko won the ball from Clarke
on the right and played it infield to Defoe, who was ten yards outside
the box. He turned, ran at Alexander to make himself a yard and
when inside the area, he guided a left foot shot past Jensen to complete
the home side's misery.
I will not patronise Burnley by saying
how unlucky they were to be knocked out, as we knew they could play and
play the right way too. They showed in this leg that they can
match a top flight team, as they had done over previous rounds, but they
lacked the conviction to go for the throat and win it outright and were
punished by two bits of Premier class finishing. While it was
disappointing for them to go out in such a way, we have been in similar
positions and nobody had sympathy for us. In some ways, it is a
harsh lesson that they need to learn if they aspire to reach the Premier
For Tottenham, it was a bit of a get out
of jail way to win, but the one good thing was that they kept going to
the end and with a meeting with Manchester United at Wembley at the end
of it, you might have thought that they would have put in a bit more
effort before the final two minutes.
As always with Tottenham Hotspur, it is
never the easy way.
THE HEATHROW SPUR