With a performance which saw virtually every Spurs player put in a good
performance, the side lifted themselves to beat Chelsea after a long 120
minutes and allow Ledley King to exorcise a number of ghosts in lifting
the League Cup aloft at the new Wembley.
Thanks to Juande Ramos' team selection
and substitutions, he out-thought Avram Grant and made sure that the
Spurs team made sure of their place in the club's history, as Dimitar
Berbatov's penalty and Jonathan Woodgate's first goal for the club gave
Tottenham an extra time win for the fourth time in this competition.
There was a willingness from the players
to give their all and the Spurs fans themselves gave every breath in
exhorting the team on against the cynical and frankly, temperamental
From the moment Robbie Keane intercepted
a cross-field pass by Belletti and strode forward to strike a shot that
John Terry just deflected wide, the tempo that Spurs played at and the
pressure they put on Chelsea all over the pitch dictated the way the
game was going. It was from that corner that Dimitar Berbatov
headed on for Ledley King to volley over from a yard or two out.
EIght minutes in and Malbranque had a
cross blocked for a corner and when Lennon played it to the far post,
Chimbonda rose high to nod back across goal, but the ball drifted high
and bounced off the top of the bar and out and was cleared away.
Then Berbatov slid a header wide of the far post and it looked like the
chances which clipped wide of the goal might end up coasting Tottenham.
The opening period of the game saw
Tottenham dominate and the game seemed to be played at a slow pace by
Chelsea. The ball was moved around and the defences sat deep to
try and nullify any attacking that might happen. This resulted in
long passes being played beyond the intended targets and a series of
goal kicks and throw-ins. A foul by Terry on Berbatov allowed
Jermaine Jenas to flight in a free-kick with pace and while Woodgate got
on the end of the cross, he could not control his header as he flung
himself at the ball.
In the 28th minute, Keane held the ball
up well and passed behind him to Steed, who hit an early shot that made
Cech dive to his right to push the ball past the post. Shortly
after, Chelsea threatened for the first time, but Lampard blazed well
over from distance and then Drogba started to go all weak at the knees
... at every challenge that came his way. it was always going to
be a bit tricky conceding free-kicks around the box and it was deflected
out for a corner, from which Drogba was fouled by Zokora and this time,
the Ivory Coast striker hit his shot from 25 yards just over the bar.
When Didier fouled Didier in the 37th
minute, the range had been found and from 25 yards out, Drogba put his
shot wide of the wall and where Keane had jumped in from to leave
Robinson helpless. It looked as though the keeper might have left
too much open, but the wall had helped the Chelsea forward see too much
of the net. His celebrations were unnecessarily provocative, being
in the face of the Spurs management team, but they failed to react to
the intended irritation.
The Tottenham response was immediate,
with Berbatov setting up Keane for a volley that hit Cech, while the
favour was nearly returned, but Berba lost his footing in the area.
Then, right on half-time, Lampard slid in hard on Berbatov when he was
on the floor having already had a foul given against him.
Excessive force would have been a good description of Lampard's assault,
but Halsey felt that as he is Frank Lampard, he shouldn't be booked.
Still, the second half saw Spurs attempt
to salvage their position by passing the ball around well. The
only clear chance came when Zokora ran on goal and hit his shot with
plenty of slice and missed by miles, as usual. Anelka headed
Wright-Phillips' cross straight into Robinson's arms, before Ramos
decided to take off Chimbonda and bring on Huddlestone. The
defender took an age to leave the field and had to be hurried off by
Jenas, prompting Pascal to head straight down the tunnel. Tom came
into midfield with Malbranque fitting into Chimbonda's position and the
move released Lennon and Jenas to maraud a bit further forward.
However, it was Ledley King who produced
a finely timed tackle to slide in and stop Anelka, just when it looked
like he might get a shot in on goal on the left side of the area.
As Spurs moved forward in their next attack, Aaron Lennon got round
Belletti on the left wing and stood up a cross to the far post, where
Tom Huddlestone had to back-pedal to control the ball. Bridge was on him
in a flash and as the Spurs man juggled the ball to get past him, the
Chelsea defender seemed to balance the ball on both arms and the lineman
on that side flagged across his chest for a penalty.
Now, with Robbie Keane not having had the
greatest record from the spot this season, it was reassuring to see
Berbatov pick up the ball. He seemed like the coolest person in
the stadium, while we were all nervous wrecks, as he put the ball down.
He made what must have been one of the slowest approaches to a penalty
kick ever and as Cech committed himself to his left, Berba stroked the
ball slowly to the keeper's right and the ball hit the net, soon to be
rammed back in as the Bulgarian striker celebrated his 70th minute
The way the team celebrated, you could
see that the goal spread more confidence through the side and the rest
of the remainder of the 90 minutes showed that. An urgency and
speed of passing opened up Chelsea. Two minutes after the goal
though, Drogba got past Woodgate for the first time and Ledley raced
over to slide in to block his shot and preserve the situation Berbatov
had earned Spurs. Since moving to left back, Steed had struggled
and although he had done a job, Ramos brought on Tainio to counter any
effect Kalou might have brought from replacing Wright-Phillips.
With ten minutes left, Spurs could have
won it, as Didier Zokora raced past a static back four, who looked on as
he went through to face Cech. Now, if it had been anyone else, you
might have thought it would be a goal, but Zokora took it too close to
Cech and hit his shot into the Czech keeper's face. Even then, the
ball rebounded back to the midfielder, who hit another effort that
sailed wide and high, when Berbatov was alongside him and if he had
received the pass, could have slipped the ball into an empty net.
Tottenham were flooding forward and when
Keane's cross into the box was half-cleared to Tainio on the edge of the
area, his shot was blocked by Jenas and Tom fired in the rebound, but
his shot got stopped too. The chances were coming thick and fast
now, with Lennon on the left setting up Berbatov to fire a half volley
on the turn, but it was straight at Cech and he beat the ball out.
When the play moved to the Spurs end, Anelka's diagonal ball to Drogba
from the right was just too long for him to reach it with four minutes
left on the clock. Even closer to the end, Lampard tried to hit a
clearance back at goal, but struck it wide.
In added time, Tom Huddlestone came
forward to launch a long throw towards the box and Woodgate nodded it on
at the near post. It went to the back stick, where Robbie Keane,
with his back to goal, tried an overhead kick, but it flew way over and
that was it for full time. So, extra time it was.
After a break for a rub down and more
instruction, the teams took the field playing the same way as they had
in the first half of normal time. Three minutes in and Lennon
raced away from Anelka, who fell all over him and gave away a free-kick
40 yards out on the left hand side. As Jenas played the ball in,
Woodgate lost Drogba, who was supposed to be tracking him and had a free
header. Cech had come out to close him down, but his save only
pushed the ball back into Woodgate's face and it rebounded back past the
keeper. When the Spurs defender realised what had happened, he
reacted and made sure the ball went over the line to give Spurs the
lead. What a time to score your first goal for the club !!
Chelsea had to change things if they
wanted to get back into the match and Mikel made way for Joe Cole.
Kalou was released down by the touchline on the left wing and as he cut
in he was fouled by Hutton, who had a very good game in defence.
With the wall being pushed back, Lampard thought he could squeeze the
ball in with a shot from a narrow angle, but Robbo pushed it away as it
headed for the top corner.
Just before the end of the first period
of extra time, Ramos made the surprising move to replace Keane with
Kaboul. As he left the field, Keano looked like he was limping and
Spurs moved to a 5-4-1 formation, with the long ball tactic expected
from the Blues.
And that was what happened. King
blocked one Drogba effort, while Woodgate had both arms around the
striker, but he had already been flagged offside, luckily. With
eight minutes remaining, Kalou turned Kaboul and hit a low shot that
Paul Robinson kept out with his foot to maintain the Spurs lead.
However, as Chelsea pushed on for an equaliser, Spurs hit on the break,
despite Berbatov playing a lone role up front. He found Lennon but
he could not keep the ball down and Kalou robbed him of it as he moved
Tainio became the first Spurs player to
be booked for time-wasting, being followed by Jenas and Lennon later on.
King missed getting a full head on a long ball into the box and it slid
off his head to Joe Cole and his low shot was well held by Robinson, as
it did not have a lot of pace in it. Away came Spurs with Zokora
bringing the ball into the Chelsea half. He had Berbatov to his
right and Lennon to his left, but delayed the pass so long that when he
did try and put Aaron in, he only played it to a Chelsea shirt. At
this stage of the game, we could have done without stranding too many
players upfield when the ball was given away.
It was getting a bit like a siege as
Spurs defended with their backs to the wall and blocked, threw
themselves in the way of and generally did what was necessary to keep
the ball out. Belletti, who had rammed one in from 35 yards at
Stamford Bridge tried a repeat performance and hit the middle tier of
the stand behind the goal and Woodgate headed out for a late corner.
We all held our breath as the ball was played in and Robinson came for
it, but didn't get it. The whistle went for a free-kick for a foul
on him. Relief.
Jermaine Jenas was still full of running
and took the ball on into the corner of the Chelsea half, but lost
control and gave a throw-in to the Pensioners. The ball was
hoicked forward and Terry knocked it on to Kalou in the left hand
channel. He pulled his foot back to shoot against the post, but
the Spurs players had long since given up the chase, because Halsey did
the one thing right in the game and blew for the end of the match,
leaving the Chelsea players furious with him. So much so that Cech
was booked and the Chelsea assistant manager Ten Cate had to physically
pull a number of players away from the official.
The white shirts hugged each other and
jumped over each other, as the Tottenham end of the stadium erupted.
The opposite end showed red lines of seats which had been vacated long
before the end.
As Ledley went up to lift the League Cup,
the Tottenham fans were beaming smiles, while the Chelsea players' faces
were thunderous. They soon dissolved into the dressing room, while
Spurs spent an age on the pitch enjoying the moment.
It appeared that Ramos had got all the
major decisions right on the day. Picking the right players and
making the right changes at the right time. With Chelsea lacking
the will to engender any urgency into their game, Spurs closed down on
the wide open spaces of Wembley with an efficiency that they have found
under the new coach.
It might be a Mickey Mouse Cup to some,
but it put us in fantasy land for a short while. With one taste of
what it is like, the players might want more to come.
BENNY THE BALL