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Chelsea v Spurs, 11.03.07

FA CUP 6TH ROUND
SUNDAY 11TH MARCH, 2007
CHELSEA 3 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (3)

Chelsea scorers:-
Lampard 22, 71
Kalou, 86

Spurs scorers:-
Berbatov, 5
Essien (o.g), 28
Ghaly, 36

Referee: - Mike Riley

Attendance: - 41,517

Teams:-
Chelsea (4-1-3-2):- Cech; Ferreira, (sub Wright-Phillips, 34), Essien, Carvalho, A. Cole (sub Kalou, 64); Diarra (sub Boulahrouz, 57); Ballack, Lampard (Capt.), Robben; Drogba, Shevchenko

Subs not used: - Cudicini; Bridge

Booked: - Diarra, Carvalho, Cole

Spurs (4-3-1-2):- Cerny; Stalteri, Dawson (Capt.), Rocha, Lee; Ghaly (sub Gardner, 81), Zokora, Tainio; Lennon (sub Malbranque, 76); Defoe, Berbatov (sub Mido, 66)

Subs not used: - Burch; Huddlestone

Booked: - Ghaly, Zokora, Lee, Stalteri, Cerny

To Dreamland and back!

The first thing to say is that this was a terrific game of football. Spurs have been involved in such games in their last 4 week-end fixtures during their 6-game unbeaten run, when they have beaten Fulham, Bolton and West Ham, scoring 4 goals on each occasion, and now a total of 20 goals in their last 6 games. We were in dreamland at half-time, when Spurs became the first team to score three against Jose Mourinho’s side since Middlesbrough beat them 3-0 in February last year. The last time Chelsea conceded three at home was against the gooners in March 2003, and that was also in an FA Cup quarter-final. Sadly, Spurs lost a good first half lead (not for the first time), but there is no shame in this result as Mourinho literally threw everything he had at Spurs in the second half.

Still missing Terry, in an effort to claw back the two goal deficit, the Chelsea manager firstly replaced right back Ferreira for Wright-Phillips after only 34 minutes. Then after the break Boulahrouz replaced Diarra, and Essien was allowed to advance to his normal midfield position. Finally, Kalou replaced Ashley Cole, meaning that Spurs had to defend against a front three of Kalou, Shevchenko and Drogba, supported by Robben and Wright-Phillips on the wings, not to mention double-scoring Captain Frank Lampard in the middle.

Martin Jol, missing several key players such as Ledley King, Paul Robinson, Jenas, Keane and Chimbonda (presumably rested!) worked a tactical piece of genius himself. Having played a psychological game with the week-end newspapers, suggesting that he might have to rest Aaron Lennon, Jol actually played the 19 year old star behind the strikers, but also gave him licence to roam in front of the midfield three of Ghaly, Zokora, and Tainio. This move paid dividends after just 4 minutes, when Lennon had a half chance which he fired wide from outside the area with his right foot. However, a minute later, Defoe fed him the ball short from the left of centre, and Lennon put a brilliant ball through for Berbatov who put Spurs in the lead with aplomb, beating Cech with his right foot shot. The Shed End, occupied fully by Spurs fans, was ecstatic, and on the first stop to dreamland.

Spurs had not come with a team bus defensive agenda for this game, but had every intention of seeking a win. They looked so much like doing it too! Zokora was next to have a pop at goal, failing dismally, having been set up by Berbatov, after the move came from the left. In the 12th minute, Stalteri did well to claim the ball around the half way line, finding Berbatov with an arrowed pass. Berbatov crossed into the danger zone and Defoe could not quite reach for the shot.

Chelsea finally got off the back foot, and were perhaps a little lucky to get back on level terms, when Lampard stuck a foot out at Ballack’s shot, and the almost involuntary touch beat Cerny for a cruel equaliser. Cerny had a competent game, and held a long effort by Diarra, which bounced awkwardly in front of him. Spurs gloriously regained the lead, again thanks to Lennon’s creativity, when he got almost to the bye-line on the right, cutting the ball back into the 6 yard box, where Essien beat his keeper with an involuntary kick. Spurs were playing some “Ole” football in the Chelsea half, but had a scare when Lee’s pass missed its target, allowing Robben to make a run from his own half, taking the ball to the Spurs goal-line, where he hit the ball back powerfully. Dawson’s touch took the ball towards Cerny, who could not hold the ball, but Paul Stalteri heroically cleared in front of his line. Robben had been a thorn in the side of Spurs, wandering from left to right flank. On the right Stalteri was assisted by Ghaly, who scored a fantastic third goal for Spurs, after he, Berbatov and Stalteri stole the ball off the protesting Robben. Ghaly advanced with the ball into the Chelsea half. His forward pass fell back in his favour, and he simply raced through to beat Cech with a great low shot for that 3-1 lead!

It is amazing to think that at this stage, referee Mike Riley had yet to show anyone a card. He seemed to favour the home side, and when eventually he did give a decision Spurs’ way, there was an almighty ironic cheer. Drogba “won” a free kick five minutes before the break, and when it was taken, Michael Dawson’s back header was headed into the side netting by Essien. Ghaly and Zokora made it into the referee’s book before the break, but 6 more names found their way there in the second half. That included Lee soon after the break for a foul on Sean Wright-Phillips, and even Cerny later in the game for alleged time-wasting, when all he was doing was pointing out to the absent officials that Drogba had not withdrawn 10 yards.

Cerny did well to hold a glanced header from a corner early in the second half, and then the goalkeeper was alert as Drogba dummied and Lampard got a shot on target from a sharp angle. Spurs could (and arguably should) have gone 4-1 up after 51 minutes, when Berbatov put Lennon through in the middle. Lennon’s shot was parried by Cech, and then when Ghaly chipped across the keeper to Defoe, the keeper also managed to save Jermain’s effort. Lennon’s chance had been of the gold variety, and should have finished in the net. Lennon drew a cynical late challenge from Ashley Cole, just outside the Chelsea area, after the Spurs winger had made a great penetrating run. Cole was soon replaced by Kalou, and with less than half an hour remaining, Mourinho was possibly more desperate than he has been in his three year tenure at Chelsea, to try and get back in the game.

Just as some of us started to reminisce about the 1995 quarter-final win at Anfield, Berbatov was replaced by Mido, who sadly is at least two classes below his standard. Many say this was Jol’s biggest mistake today, but of course he does need to try and preserve Berbatov for what will now be three games in the next 9 days. Nonetheless, Chelsea did get one more goal back from a corner, and again it was through Lampard. You could argue that the ball fell fortunately to his feet, after a little scramble involving Drogba and others in the Spurs 6 yard box. Lampard does not miss from that range, and it was of course, game on.

Spurs were now defending against the kitchen sink mentality, and after 74 minutes, Tainio and Lee did so well to create an opening out of defence for Zokora, who made a run, but saw his shot saved. Now Lennon was replaced by Steed Malbranque, and after Zokora lost the ball, Essien hit a shot just wide of the post, which I think was covered by Cerny in any case! Martin Jol’s ploy of replacing Ghaly with Gardner to add strength to the defence did not work, as Gardner failed to effectively challenge Drogba on the left of the Spurs area. Drogba headed across and Kalou fired home the equaliser with a first time shot.

It would have been no injustice had Spurs taken yet another late win, as Defoe did so well to force his way through the Chelsea barrage, hitting the bar with his shot from just inside the box. Shevchenko had a shot just over the bar at the other end, but Zokora should have done better with another advance. He had Malbranque in space to his right, but tried a shot which was too easy for Cech. Zokora was also guilty of wasting a late free kick.

It was a remarkable game of football, surely enjoyed by the TV audience, who must have felt that the remaining 6th Round ties were not worth watching after such excitement. We have it all to look forward to again on Monday 19th March (7.45 p.m.), as Spurs will still have no reason to fear Chelsea in their quest for FA Cup glory.

· Moments I relish

· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
· Read the preview for this game.

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