From a far from inspiring first half, when Spurs turned around one goal
behind, Harry Redknapp transformed the game with two half-time
substitutions that saw Spurs reach the FA Cup semi-final in a sparkling
17 minute second half spell of football that took them to a 3-1 win over
There was little about
Tottenham in the first half that would suggest that a meeting with
Portsmouth at the national stadium was a possibility. Slow to
start and second best to almost every ball, Fulham played some neat
passing and scored a well-crafted goal, as they looked comfortable and
Spurs looked decidedly off the pace. While Wilson Palacios flashed
a 25 yard shot from our left hand side past Schwarzer's left hand post,
but Gomes was the busier of the keepers in the first ten minutes.
He dived low to his right to hold a Danny Murphy daisy-cutter, then was
saved a dive by a block on Utuhu's weak shot from outside the box and
then had to dive left and up to palm Simon Davies' stinging drive from
20 yards and then grab it at the second attempt. Modric should
have hit the target, when Eidur Gudjohnsen set him up, but the presence
of a Fulham defender gave him little to aim at and his shot went wide.
The presence of no less than five
ex-Spurs players (Murphy, Davies, Stephen Kelly, Paul Konchesky and
Bobby Zamora) gave the Fulham side a familiar look and they were all
keyed up to show the Tottenham crowd that they can still play a bit.
Murphy ticked play over with a series of short passes that kept Spurs
moving backwards and Davies looked intent on getting up the left wing,
but it was Zamora, who, with 17 minutes on the clock, gave Fulham the
lead. Damien Duff picked up the ball just inside the Tottenham
half and ran unchallenged to within 25 yards of the Spurs goal.
With no Tottenham player coming out to meet him, he slipped a pass
through to Zamora just inside the penalty area and the in-form striker
side-footed a left foot shot past Gomes and inside the post to make it
1-0 to the Cottagers.
It was not the start that Spurs or the
fans wanted and the goal did spark a bit of a response from the team.
Firstly, Modric put Gudjohnsen through on the shoulder of the last man
,but his touch took the ball wide left of the goal and there was
insufficient support to pass to and make the most of the opening.
Then came a moment when the Icelander almost got Spurs back in the game
in the 27th minute with a cute piece of ingenuity. A ball into the
box bounced up and when Crouch went for it at the far post, Aaron Hughes
came in and appeared to knock the ball with his hand, but it took the
ball towards the six yard box and Eidur, with his back to goal,
back-heeled the ball at goal and it took Schwarzer by surprise and
forced him to dive to his right to grab the ball before it crossed the
A minute later, Bale and Crouch linked
down the left and the Welshman crossed for Gudjohnsen to knock the ball
down for Modric with his chest and the midfielder hit a shot just wide.
Peter Crouch then had a weak shot straight at Schwarzer and Bale put a
free-kick over the top from 25 yards out, before Fulham came into the
game again at the end of the half with Hangeland putting a free-header
from a corner over the top and Zamora nodding a Gera cross wide for
beyond the far post.
The latest inductees into the Spurs Hall
of Fame - John Pratt, Ralph Coates and Phil Beal - were interviewed at
half-time, with Beal telling of his fight with Romeo Benetti of AC Milan
in the away leg of the UEFA Cup semi-final of 1972 and being told to lay
down after punching the Italian in retaliation to avoid punishment by
the ref. It took our minds off the first half for a bit. It
was odd that the Spurs subs who came out to warm up in the interval were
quickly summoned back in the dressing room by Tony Parks, probaby
because Harry wanted to make them aware of what was needed in the second
period should they be called upon.
When the second half started, Benoit
Assou-Ekotto and Niko Kranjcar were missing and David Bentley and Tom
Huddlestone were waiting to join the fray. When Bale, now playing
left back, went down the left wing and was hacked down by former
Tottenham full back Stephen Kelly, there was a yellow card and a
free-kick. The real punishment came when Bentley had his first
touch and bent the ball in with pace and Corluka went diving in at the
near post and missed the ball with his head (thank goodness) and it left
Schwarzer in no-man's land with the ball zipping past him off the wet
turf and into the net. This was just the start Tottenham wanted to
the second half.
Bale was involved again soon after the
goal, when the ball was cleared to the edge of the box and he hit a half
volley over the bar and then his defensive team mates Corluka and Gomes
were required to combine to stop Simon Davies at the near post, when
Gera put in a low cross. Corluka took a knock going in for a
challenge with Zamora and had to go off to get treatment, while Spurs
continued to attack and got a free-kick where the goal came from,
This time Bentley bent it in low at the near post and the Fulham keeper
had to be quick to get down and get his body behind the ball.
Corluka could not continue, so the third Spurs sub had to be used and
Pavlyuchenko came on to play up front, with Palacios going to right back
and Gudjohnsen dropping into midfield.
When Bentley went down the right, his
crosses were causing problems and one fizzed a couple of feet off the
floor across the six yard box, with Crouch unable to get even his long
legs to the ball that would surely have resulted in a goal had he got
any sort of touch.
Spurs were really passing the ball around
well now and one chipped shot by Pavyluchenko went just over, while
Fulham stood off the white shirted players and chased shadows, they
could only manage Zamora tugging Sebastien Bassong's shirt off him
and the Cameroon defender tried to extricate himself by swinging himself
free and got a booking along with the striker. From the free kick,
Spurs picked up the bal land strung a number of passes together across
and back, before Bentley stood a cross up at the far post and Roman
produced a left foot volley from a narrow angle that beat Schwarzer at
his near post on the hour. It was a neat finish and one that put
Spurs ahead with Fulham seemingly running out of steam.
Maybe Harry had told the players to shoot
on sight, as Schwarzer was being tested regularly, with Pavlyuchenko and
Modric both stinging his hands with shots that he pushed aside before
the third Spurs goal came in the 66th minute. A long passing
movement once more built up play and with Modric darting into the right
side of the Fulham half, just outside the box, he flicked the ball
through to find Gudjohnsen's good run and he dinked the ball past the
goalie and then just got to it before a defender to prod home from just
outside the six yard box. it was a beautifully worked goal and one
which was worthy of winning a game, especially well finished by the
striker who has been languishing in French football for most of the
Tottenham continued to go forward and
when the ball dropped to Crouchy on the edge of the box, he hammered a
first time shot that left Schwarzer standing with the ball missing the
goal by inches. Fulham did hit back when a cross was knocked back
by Zamora to Duff and the Irishman hit a good low shot low down to
Gomes' right and he did very well to push it wide of the goal.
With time running out Dempsey and Okaka came on, but apart from a
scramble in the box where Palacios won a vital header and Dempsey trying
his luck from 20 yards that brought a routine save from Gomes, the
pressure they had resulted in little goal threat.
The final whistle was greeted by players
and fans alike and the empty seats in the Fulham end had been full of
supporters who were going on a European tour and were now already well
on their way to making a trip back to West London. There was
little for them to sing about at the end, as their side had been
dismantled by Spurs and a tactical master-stroke with a deep squad
(despite injuries and more to Corluka and Bassong) allowed Tottenham to
progress to meet Portsmouth at Wembley in two and a half weeks
Before then we meet the cash-strapped
South Coast club (CSSCC) on Saturday in a match for points. With
results elsewhere in the Premier League going Tottenham's way tonight
the chase for fourth place