CARLING CUP FINAL
SUNDAY 24TH FEBRUARY, 2008
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (0) CHELSEA 1 (1)
(AET – Score 1-1 after 90 minutes)
Berbatov (pen), 70
Referee:- Mark Halsey
Assistants:- Andrew Garratt & Martin Yerby
Fourth Official:- Peter Walton
Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Hutton, Woodgate, King (Capt.), Chimbonda (sub Huddlestone, 62); Lennon, Jenas, Zokora, Malbranque (sub Tainio, 75); Berbatov, Keane (sub Kaboul, 102)
Subs not used:- Cerny; Bent
Booked:- Zokora, Tainio, Lennon, Jenas
Chelsea (4-1-3-2):- Cech; Belletti, Carvalho, Terry (Capt.), Bridge; Mikel (sub Cole, 99); Wright-Phillips (sub Kalou, 72), Essien (sub Ballack, 88), Lampard; Drogba, Anelka
Subs not used:- Cudicini; Alex
Booked:- Mikel, Carvalho, Cech
Walking in a Tottenham Juandeland! (Copyright G. Parker!)
The game was indeed about Glory!
This was a game about legends. Firstly the legend that is Ledley King, winning his fitness battle for the day to lead his team to victory, with a performance as immaculate as ever, and finally becoming the latest in a line of great Spurs Captains to lift a trophy. Secondly the legend that is to come in the shape of man of the match Jonathan Woodgate, who scored the winning goal in just his fifth Spurs game. It was not a classic goal, but one scored through great determination and application, typifying the Spurs performance on the day. Thirdly, and not least, the game was about Juande Ramos – winner of all 6 Cup Finals he has managed – tactician supreme.
Ramos made three substitutions, each of which might have mystified some observers, but all of which proved to be master-strokes and integral to the achievement of the dream of not only winning a Cup Final, but in the process, beating Chelsea – a top four side that fielded the manager’s chosen strongest line-up.
Firstly Chimbonda was replaced by Huddlestone after 62 minutes. Chimbonda might have been suffering from his knock received earlier in the week, but whatever the circumstances, the Frenchman sloped off down the tunnel, and not onto the benches to support his team in their mighty quest for victory. He was spotted during the post-match celebrations though. With that change, Steed Malbranque was drafted in as emergency left back cover, and Jenas moved forward to support the front two, whilst Huddlestone played on the right side of a midfield three that meant Lennon switched to the left with great success. It was another totally new strategy by Juande Ramos, and one which led to Spurs getting back on level terms when Bridge cuddled the ball in the penalty area under challenge from Huddlestone.
After 75 minutes, Tainio replaced Steed and took up that left back position. Tainio is not the greatest of our players, but he gave that extra half yard of effort which often led to ball retention and feeding to Lennon, who gave Chelsea right back Belletti more trouble than he had Wayne Bridge. The final change came after Spurs had taken the lead in extra time, and eyebrows were raised when Robbie Keane was removed in favour of Kaboul. It turns out that Robbie was suffering from a twinge, but the insertion of Kaboul, as a third centre back re-inforced the defence that became obliged to resist the waves of Chelsea attacks in those latter stages that led to hard-bitten fingernails in the now tense Spurs crowd.
Spurs got off to a great start in the first minute when Robbie Keane intercepted a loose ball, and hit a shot which was deflected for a corner. When the corner was taken, Berbatov headed the ball down and it was Ledley King who tried a hook shot that went over. The stage had been set, and Spurs set about dominating their so-called eminent rivals. They succeeded for the first five minutes, without forcing a further chance before Berbatov’s glanced header across goal from Keane’s cross after 8 minutes. Another chance came after 18 minutes, when Berbatov was fouled by John Terry. Jenas’s free kick was headed wide by Woodgate at the stretch.
After 27 minutes, Malbranque came close, receiving the ball back from Keane, striking the ball low to Cech’s right post, forcing another corner. Chelsea broke forward from the corner and won a free kick that Lampard put wide. This was the first of a sequence of free kicks conceded by Spurs in dangerous territory just outside the area, and ultimately, Chelsea’s variety of approaches worked. Drogba had run over the ball for Lampard’s kick, then put one wide himself. Unfortunately, Spurs were slow to prepare for the kick from which Drogba did score, with Robinson flat-footed and just not moving as the ball beat him well to the left of his goal. The signs then were that having failed to capitalise on their possession and supremacy, Spurs would be made to suffer. There was a moment of hope just before the break, when Jenas made a darting run and passed forward to Keane, who fed Berbatov in the box. Berbatov went to ground, but Mr. Halsey was giving nothing.
Half-time added time was probably the shortest of all four of the periods of the game where time was added. Somehow Mr Halsey managed to find about three minutes at the end of full time, and both periods of extra time!
Five minutes into the second half, Spurs broke Chelsea possession near the half way line, but it was unfortunate that the ball fell for Zokora, who headed for goal, but sadly has the scoring ability and record of Steffen Freund, skewing his shot miles wide.
Chelsea were creating little in the way of chances, and Paul Robinson probably made his only real save of the match in the closing minutes. Anelka was partnering Drogba, and filling the otherwise void space on the Chelsea left. Hutton was thus fully occupied, and did not get forward much for Spurs. Tom Huddlestone got forward alright when the penalty was awarded as he and Bridge closed down inside the Chelsea area. Bridge probably actually handled the ball three times, but Mr Halsey didn’t see anything. In fairness his view was obscured, but his assistant Mr Yerby (who used to referee Reserve games at Stevenage) spotted the infringement, clearly signalling the same to Mr Halsey, who awarded the penalty. Dimitar Berbatov stepped up and coolly placed his kick to Cech’s right in front of the Spurs end.
Shaun Wright-Phillips was replaced by Kalou, but still Chelsea were giving their fans little to shout about. For Spurs it was Zokora to whom the best chances were falling. He had a double attempt after 80 minutes. The first was saved by Cech, then Zokora put the rebound wide. Huddlestone hit a great ball to Lennon down the left after 83 minutes, and Lennon lifted a cross for a header by Berbatov, saved by Cech. Another Chelsea big gun – Michael Ballack arrived, but Spurs came closest to scoring a winner when Robbie Keane tried an overhead kick following a throw.
Spurs’ dramatic winning goal came following the award of a free kick for a foul on Lennon as he raided the left flank. Jenas floated in the kick and Jonathan Woodgate left his marker Drogba behind as he challenged Cech for the ball. Cech failed to gather, and Woody got the first headed touch. Cech parried but the ball hit Woody’s forehead, as his challenge continued and it was in the net! It was of course a great Spurs moment that will live long in the club’s history. From here on in, it became a bit of a backs to the wall job for Spurs. Robbo saved a Lampard shot taken after a Chelsea free kick from the left side, and in the second period of added time, he saved a Kalou shot with his feet. Joe Cole forced another save when he met a high ball from the left, and Spurs one chance in this period came yet again from a Zokora run. He had Lennon with him on the left side, but might not have been fully aware as his attempt on goal was neither a decent pass, or a good enough shot.
Mr Halsey seemed to go beyond the three minutes of added time found from a whole fifteen minutes, but all was well as he finally did blow the whistle as Chelsea approached the Spurs area. Cech got himself booked as he was one o the Chelsea players who seemed to think that the referee should have allowed them to finish their attack. The ball hit the post anyway!
There were so many memorable scenes at the end of this great victory. Central defensive partners Woodgate and King embraced. Ledley hobbled up to collect and lift the trophy for a moment he so richly deserves. Robbie Keane was like a kid in a toy shop as he jigged and almost cried tears of joy. He embraced Berbatov and hopefully whispered encouragement to Berbs to stay for more Spurs success next year. Keane was also the chief protagonist when Juande Ramos was duly dowsed in champagne. Ramos even conducted a brief post match interview in English. “I am so ‘appy for the fans”
Well, Mr Ramos, we too are very, very happy. The smile will not leave my face for a long time. It was such a great feeling to join in the biggest Spurs party for 9 years, and this time we could celebrate real Spurs men lifting a trophy for our adulation.
Thank you Mr Ramos, and thank you my Spurs.
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