Eight years of hurt was relieved with this resounding victory over
Arsenal, which left the visitors flat out and in tears, but still could
not prise any words of praise from the lips of Monsieur Myopia.
The 5-1 score-line failed to reflect the dominance Spurs had of the
game, despite only having a third of the possession and Wenger was
loathe to acknowledge that his choice of players was disrespectful to
Tottenham, who on the night pricked the notion that the young Gooners
were some sort of paragon of virtue.
Fine performances by almost every Spur on
the pitch left the red shirts chasing shadows and the clinical finishing
left the South London Wanderers devastated and outplayed to the extent
that Radek Cerny only had one difficult save to make all night, while
Fabianski let in five and it could have been eight.
Ironically, Arsenal knocked the ball
about in the first couple of minutes and Gilberto tried a long range
effort that flew well over the top. Then a move was broken up, the
ball was worked to Berbatov, who passed to Jenas some 25 yards from
goal. Running at the right side of the Arsenal defence, as the
midfielder reached the edge of the penalty box, he let go a right foot
shot across the keeper. It was not the fiercest effort he has
struck, but it was enough to go past the out-stretched hand of the
goalie and hit his right hand post. With our luck against the
Gooners, it looked like the ball was bouncing out, but it went across
goal and ruffled the inside of the side netting to give Tottenham the
lead after just 168 seconds.
The atmosphere, which had been building
before the game, reached what was to be the first crescendo of a long
evening. Coming so early, it might have been too soon for Spurs,
but the way they played tonight, it ensured that Arsenal did not have
many opportunities to get back into the match, with an energetic closing
down of anyone on the ball and an organised defensive structure that
shut them out for most of the game.
When Spurs scored Denilson went down
injured and carried on clutching his hamstring until he was eventually
subbed, with Wenger bringing on Fabregas to bring some creativity to the
midfield, who were getting hustled out of it. Not that it
mattered, as Spurs were using the trickery of Robbie Keane to tantalise
the Arsenal defenders and he was going around Hoyte and Gallas with
great ease. It was ten minutes before Arsenal got a sniff of the
goal and that was when a run by Hleb saw Spurs give too much space to
Bendtner, who took the cut back first time and smashed the effort over
the bar. Walcott's first run was tracked by Dawson and Cerny made
a belated move out of goal to smother his effort and divert it for a
With Fabregas coming on, Spurs made sure
they had men to close him down when he had the ball and their tackling
was tigerish; a little too much so in Malbranque's case, for which he
got a yellow card. Arsenal's tackling was ragged and when Gallas
pulled Keane down from behind, about 40 yards out, Jenas played the ball
into the centre of the box. The pace on the ball was designed to
have a Spurs head flick it goal wards and the pace on the ball give it
the speed to beat the keeper. Jermaine's aim was not on target,
but Nicolas Bendtner rose highest to get there ahead of Dawson to put a
firm header beyond Fabianski and the crowd roared as the ball hit the
net to make it 2-0 in the 27th minute.
It was almost deja vu of last year's
semi-final home leg, with a 2-0 lead and the second an own goal too.
All we could hope for is a different outcome.
With half an hour gone, Berbatov should
have ensured the passage to Wembley, as he was put clear by Jenas and
his shot beat the goalie, but hit the post and bounced out. The
gasp of disappointment was audible from the Spurs fans, who wanted to
put this game out of Arsenal's reach as soon as possible. Almost
immediately at the other end, a free kick out on Arsenal's left wing was
whipped into the near post by Fabregas and Sagna got there first, but
his header was palmed over the top from under Cerny's crossbar. As
the game went from end to end, Keane would have been in on goal had
Berbatov's pass not been hit too far in front of him and another chance
Spurs stood off Diaby twice ina few
minutes and he hit a shot wide and another straight at the Spurs keeper,
then, as injury time was being played, Jenas took the ball off Hoyte and
burst into the area, but his touch was a little too heavy, leaving him
the only option of shooting as Fabianski came out and he prodded the
ball into the side netting, with no angle to cut the ball back for the
The half-time interval saw the Spurs
crowd buzzing, while the Arsenal fans were still convinced they would be
booking their trip to Wembley. With experience on the bench, it
was thought that Wenger might bring on Adebayour to upset the Spurs
defence, but the two teams restarted as they finished the half and
Arsenal once more made a positive start. Fabregas was crowded out
for a shot and then King robbed him of a ball on the edge of the area.
The ball went forward, Berbatov flicked inside for Aaron Lennon to lift
the ball over two Arsenal defenders, with Robbie Keane sandwiched
between them. Just as he did on Saturday, he let the ball bounce
as he ran onto it and as it dropped nicely for him, he hit the ball
across the Polish goalie and it bounced away from him and inside the
post to give Tottenham a 3-0 lead two minutes into the half.
It was just the start to the half that
Spurs needed to settle them and to offset any Arsenal charge that might
have been forthcoming. They avoided conceding a goal when in the
attack from the kick off saw the disappointing Walcott cross and
Bendtner's scissor kick hit the bar and bounced out, where Tottenham
cleared with difficulty. But as soon as it was got away,
Malbranque suddenly broke through after playing a one-two with Keane and
his shot, under pressure, was pushed aside by Fabianski. The
goalie got up just in time to grab the rebound before Dimitar Berbatov
could get to it.
At the Spurs end, Dawson blocked a Diaby
shot and from a corner shortly after, Aaron Lennon brought the ball out,
passed right to Chimbonda, who fed it on to Robbie Keane. The
Irishman passed through to the on-running Lennon and as Fabianski came
out, in the fashion of continental keepers, off the floor, the little
winger clipped the ball under him to make it 4-0 with an hour on the
Cue the exit of a large contingent of the
red and white scarved fans in a show of poor support for their team.
It was reflected by the behaviour on the pitch, as Keane held up the
ball and Hoyte scythed him down from behind and perhaps was lucky to
only see yellow from referee Webb. He nearly rued giving away the
free-kick even more as Jenas whipped it in and Berbatov got there first
and his header flashed a foot wide of the far post. It was at this
point Ramos made two changes with Berbatov and Keane being replaced by
Defoe and Boateng. It gave Arsenal an opportunity to take the
initiative for a spell, with Adebayour and Eduardo coming on for the
highly ineffective Walcott and Traore, who was equally as anonymous.
Set up with Defoe up front on his own and
Lennon playing behind him, Spurs looked to hit on the break and Steed
almost broke through, but hit his effort right into Fabianski's middle.
Diaby had another shot blocked and when the ball was worked across the
face of the Tottenham area, Adebayour worked a yard of space and hit an
unstoppable shot to bring it back to 1-4. Shame so many Gooners
weren't there to see it.
With twenty minutes to go, the nerves
were still there and although it would have been a big ask, it would not
be beyond the realms of possibility of Spurs to throw it away. The
team were still working hard, but Jenas got a booking for bringing down
Eduardo as he ran away from him into the Spurs half and shortly
afterwards, an equally cynical trip by Adebayour brought another
caution. Tom Huddlestone came on for Lennon to beef up the
midfield, as Arsenal tried to push on through that area of the side.
With about eight minutes left, the ref
was required to come between Adebayour and Bendtner who were having a
furious row in the middle of the Spurs area. Gallas was also
involved in calming things down, but it continued and Adebayour's
frustration obviously spilled over when he threw an arm into Lee's face
as the left back ran away from him and he was lucky to stay on the pitch
having already been booked.
Eduardo had a weak header and Hoyte tried
a shot that was well blocked by Chimbonda. At the other end,
Huddlestone fed Defoe, who stood right in the middle of the goal missed
the goal by a distance when he only had the keeper to beat. At the
other end, Cerny didn't do a Robinson and took Fabregas' shot in
front of him, even though he needed tow goes to grab it and then Eduardo
blazed over the bar in injury time.
When Jenas and Chimbonda worked a good
move down the right, the midfielder raced past Gilberto and pulled the
ball across the face of goal to give Steed Malbranque the opportunity to
tap in from a yard out to have a well-deserved goal for an energetic
performance that kept the Arsenal midfield in check.
While the fans had been celebrating for a
little while, it was time to turn the volume up a couple more notches
and it was a celebration until the final whistle and beyond, when the
players circled the pitch then dived in front of the East Stand to show
their joy at getting to Wembley.
Phase one achieved. Now we have to
go on and win it !!