With the threat of two weakened teams taking to the field in this Fourth
Round League Cup tie, the prospects were not good, but two stronger than
expected teams played out an entertaining game, which saw Tottenham
progress as 2-0 winners.
once more proved they have some strength in depth compared to a club
from Merseyside, the game could easily have ended differently, had not
Heurelho Gomes not made three very good saves and another alert stop
from a back header by Hutton. But Tottenham scored twice and on
another day might have had a couple more, so 4-2 might not have been an
unfair score-line, as Everton went for it, but in a controlled way.
Unfortunately, the inability of their
strikers to stand up to a semi-physical challenge did not help their
cause, with their players happy to hit the turf, but on most occasions,
referee Mason waved play on after he had a shaky first half.
Having worked some pace on the right,
Gosling played in a low ball into the box inside the first three
minutes, then it popped up for Louis Saha to manufacture a hooked shot
that looked as though it's flight might deceive Gomes, but he shifted
his feet well to stretch upwards and use his long arm to tip the ball
over the bar.
Spurs woke up and started attacks of
their own, with Pavyluchenko taking advantage of Robbie Keane blocking
Heitinga's clearance to race through, but he took his shot early to try
to catch Howard off guard, although he failed to hit the target from
outside the box. The Russian was also off target when he darted
ahead of his marker to meet Hutton's low cross into the near post from
the right. He tried to stab at it to get it go behind him towards
goal, but was too far in advance of the upright and the ball went wide
in the 25th minute.
While Bentley was making ground on the
right, Everton were trying to capitalise, but the Spurs wide man chased
back and conceded a corner with a good tackle. From it, Saha made
a run to the taker and distracted the Spurs defence, leaving Heitinga to
run in unmarked and having a free header, but he glanced it wide with
the goal right in front of him.
With five minutes to half time, Tottenham
should have been ahead, as a ball into the middle of the penalty box was
mis-kicked twice by Sylvain Distin and the second one took the ball into
the path of Keane, who was lurking behind him. Robbie dinked the
ball over the keeper as he came out at the Irishman's feet, but the ball
bounced back off the post, with no luck coming our way then, as it went
past Gareth Bale as he followed in.
A minute later, Bentley showed what he
can do, with some space on the right, he picked out a cross which was
too high as Keane, who was the first man in the box, jumped for it, thus
putting off Pav, who let the ball bounce past him and it sat up nicely
for Tommy Huddlestone to rifle left footed past Howard, who had little
chance to stop it. It was a little like the chance that fell to
Bassong on Saturday, but Hud is a better finisher and his shot flew in
with great pace after he adjusted well to the height of the ball as it
came to him.
The referee finally got the hang of what
to do when someone clears a player out from behind, with a booking for
Hibbert, then one for Heitinga, who dragged down Keano as he looked like
he might get beyond the Dutchman. From the resulting free-kick for
the Heitinga foul, Bentley showed the quality of delivery he can produce
with a dead ball fizzed in that Bassong only needed to get the slightest
touch on to steer it past Tim Howard.
With some weird penalty shoot-out between
some kids and Chirpy in goal was the half-time entertainment, but the
more interesting thing was watching the substitutes warm up and trying
to work out who was who. The inclusion of Harry Kane on the bench
was a good one in view of needing a forward and giving him some
experience of being in the first team squad, while Dean Parrett has been
there before and David Button was a surprise sub, as he had been at
Crewe Alexandra on loan at the weekend. Of the Everton subs, you
had to beware that Jose Baxter didn't try to flog you some cannabis or
pass of some hookey notes to you, but Jo came on for Saha to try to
inject a little urgency into the Toffees attack.
It almost worked straight away after half
time, as a long ball forward was touched back by Jo for Tim Cahill to
strike arising shot that was at a good height for Gomes to dive
full-length and push wide just 30 seconds into the half. At the
other end, the link-up between Pav and Keane didn't seem to be working,
with Roman failing a couple of times in the first half to set Robbie up
and vice-versa in the second. In fact, Keane was looking less than
sharp and when a pass through the middle of the Everton defence put him
through, he failed to run away from the closing markers and also failed
to get his shot away early enough, letting Hibbert get back to make a
well-timed challenge on him. Keane stayed down holding his ankle
in pain (or embarrassment).
Gomes once more came to Tottenham's
rescue, when Yakubu played Jo through and he held off the challenge of
Bassong to hit a low shot to Gomes' left and the Brazilian got down well
to push the ball wide of the goal and recovered to get the loose ball in
his hands. Within a minute, Palacios had threaded a pass through
to Keane, who moved forward and then cut in from the left side of the
box and Distin completed a disappointing night by sticking a leg across
him to bring him down. Mason pointed to the spot and Robbie
grabbed the ball and marched to the spot.
Putting in his trademark stutter in his
run-up, Keane put the ball to Howard's left, but did so without any
power and the keeper flopped to stop the ball, but did not hold it.
Bentley won the race to the loose ball and his shot was blocked by the
goalie, it went up in the air and fell to Bale, who's effort was once
more stopped by a defender, with Howard having his back to the action.
But fortunately for Tottenham, the looping ball dropped out of the air
to Keane. This time, the rising volley billowed the net to put
Tottenham 2-0 ahead in the 58th minute.
Once more Everton came back, with
Fellaini getting past Assou-Ekotto on our left, before hitting a low
drive that Gomes got down to to stop, but when Hutton made ground up the
Everton left, it looked like he was going to shoot, after Bentley had
passed him in on the edge of the box. However, the Scot choose
unselfishly to play a pass along the line of the six yard box, with
nobody reading his intention and the ball passing harmlessly wide.
Heitinga denied Keane again with a well-timed tackle, before Bentley
tried his luck from outside the box only to see the shot go wide,
quickly followed by a volley that ended up in the same finishing
Bale showed his ability when he drifted
past Hibbert inside the area and fired a low ball into towards the
middle of the goal and Distin sliced his clearance wide, when it looked
for a moment, he might have put it into his own goal. The final
opportunity in added time fell to Bentley from BAE's left wing far post
cross, but, trying to be Marco van Basten, David hit it firs time on the
volley and the ball flew over the top.
Everton did not lay down and roll over,
but David Moyes' silence after the game because of this being his side's
third game in six days says more about his inability to field a strong
side and suffering a third straight defeat. The players who turned
out in a strange purple kit didn't seem like a typical Moyes side, as
there was not the committed effort, but they did pass and move well and
made the most of the contact there was from Tottenham tackles.
But on the night, the deeper squad won
the day and Spurs move through to the quarter-final for the third
consecutive season. Just who they face there will be revealed on
Saturday. But with players returning, it might be a good time to
have to take on any of the remaining seven Premier League sides still in