THE EMIRATES FA CUP SEMI-FINAL
SATURDAY APRIL 21ST, 2018
(5.15pm Ė Wembley)
MANCHESTER UNITED 2(1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(1)
Man Utd scorers:-
Referee:- Anthony Taylor
Assistant Referees:- Gary Beswick & Adam Nunn
Fourth Official:- Kevin Friend
Reserve Assistant:- Marc Perry
VAR:- Andre Marriner
AVAR:- Andrew Halliday
Man Utd (4-3-3):- De Gea; Valencia (Capt.) (sub Darmian, 80), Smalling, Jones, Young; Herrera, Matic, Pogba; Lingard (sub Rashford, 83), Lukaku, A. Sanchez (sub Fellaini, 90+6)
(Armband to Young)
Subs not used:- Pereira; Lindelof; Mata; Martial
Booked:- Valencia (foul on Dele), Young (time wasting), Rashford (simulation), Herrera (foul on Lucas Moura)
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Vorm; Trippier, D. Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies (sub Lucas Moura, 68); Dier, Dembele (sub Wanyama, 78); Dele, Eriksen, Son (sub Lamela, 86); Kane (Capt.)
Subs not used:- Lloris; Aurier, Alderweireld; Sissoko
Booked:- Son (foul on A. Sanchez), Dele (foul on Lingard), Dier (foul on Lingard)
A record we did not want.
Here's a sobering fact for you. We have lost as many semi-finals (8) as Arsenal have won FA Cups since we last won in 1991. Thatís eight successive FA Cup semi-final defeats of course, which is a record, and one of those Spurs did not want. Under departing manager Arsene Wenger, Arsenal have won 17 trophies (if you include 6 Community Shields), which includes three Premier League titles, two doubles, and seven FA Cups. One of those recent Cup successes for Arsenal was under George Graham in 1993. In the last 27 years Spurs have won two League Cups. We remain the perpetual bridesmaids, and we havenít (quite) finished the job of ending another season above Arsenal, or claiming a top four place and qualification to the Champions League.
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino, who has always stated his priority is success in the Premier League (ultimately a title) and the Champions League did at least pick a strong team for this match, with one exception. Michel Vorm has been our FA Cup goalkeeper this season and was given the job between the sticks today. That is a decision by the manager with which I cannot agree. Despite recently displayed fallibilities, Hugo Lloris is our club captain; our number one goalkeeper, and he is the goalkeeper in whom I have most faith. I remain convinced that Hugo would have saved Herreraís match-winning second half goal. Some say we should have played Toby Alderweireld, who at least made the bench, but I accept that Toby is on his way out of the club and I do abide by the managerís decisions in this respect.
Jose Mourinho did field a strong team, described as a 4-3-3, but in the early stages I noticed Alexis Sanchez outside Ashley Young, making United look like a back five for a while. Spurs started brightly and even in the first minute, after a ball from Eriksen, Harry Kane hit a shot which was deflected and won a corner. After the corner Eriksen got the ball to Son inside the left of the box, but Sonís effort too was blocked and ended in another corner. We would not see too much more of Kane, who was well policed, and Son would have one of his disappointing days, often getting into good positions with the ball, but all too often failing to make the most of it.
Lukaku had a header over the target after a cross from the left by Matic, but referee Anthony Taylor penalised Lukaku for pushing anyway. It wasnít 11 seconds as in our January Premier league win over United, but in the 11th minute, Spurs took the lead after a lovely ball down the line by Davinson Sanchez, a cross by Eriksen, and a back post finish by Dele Alli in front of the Spurs end! (Manchester United had kicked off playing towards their own fans behind the West goal) All was looking well for Spurs at this point.
Two minutes later Dele advanced down the left channel, and fed the ball to Son on his left. Sonís cross was just too deep for Kane. Jones cleared Sonís low ball from the feet of Dele at the near post before Harry Kane fed a ball back to Eriksen in the middle, but Eriksenís shot was weak and outside De Geaís right post. Spurs had a good counter-attack with Son battling with Valencia deep in the United half, but Valencia was able to put the ball out for a corner.
Spurs started to become ponderous on the ball; too slow in their attacks, whilst Mourinhoís men were happy to sit back, but always to threaten Spurs on the counter and with pace. Those are of course typical Mourinho tactics. United got back on terms through Alexis Sanchez after Pogbaís cross from the left, with Sanchez heading the ball past a wrong-footed Vorm. Pogba had been able to muscle Dembele off the ball before making the cross to the back post.
Valencia was arguably lucky to only see yellow for a two-footed challenge on Dele. He was even luckier in the second half not to get a second yellow, before being replaced by Darmian. Referee Anthony Taylor gave a free kick for Pogbaís challenge on Son, but showed him no card. Eriksenís free kick from the right came to nothing. Another Eriksen ball gave Son a good chance on the edge of the box, but Son fired well over. Sanchez and Lukaku threatened after 42 minutes, but Ben Davies blocked Lukakuís effort. A minute later Pogba hit a bending shot which Vorm was able to push out to his left for a corner. In added time Eric Dier hit a screamer of shot low to the right of De Gea. The goalkeeper was beaten, but the ball rebounded off the post.
A minute after the break, Alexis Sanchez was threatening to take on a long ball against Trippier, but the full back just managed to get enough on his header to get the ball back to Vorm. The game had been slowed down by the team in red, and Spurs were generally failing to make headway. Dembele did get the ball out to Trippier on the right who pushed it forward to Eriksen getting towards the bye-line but finding nobody to meet his cross. Dembele again had some positive impact with a ball to Eriksen. He passed to Dele who quickly fed Kane, whose shot was deflected and won Spurs a corner. Nothing came of that and then United struck what would be the killer blow. The ball ran loose from Lukaku in the middle and reached Herrera, who ran forward with the ball and hit a low right footed shot low past Vorm, who was close to the ball but dived a little too late.
Two minutes later Dembele and Davies contrived to lose the ball in the middle giving United another chance, but this time Lukaku fired wide from the right of goal. Pochettino replaced Davies with Lucas Moura. Jan Vertonghen moved to left back, and Eric Dier fell back beside Davinson Sanchez. Dembele was one man behind a midfield four of Lucas Moura, Eriksen, Dele and Son.
After 71 minutes, Son put a ball in from the left to Harry Kane, but he was not strong enough to keep possession against two United markers. United broke forward and Lukaku had a shot from the left of the area, which Vorm held near his right post. At the other end, Eriksen had a left footed shot go just wide of de Geaís left post. The game was opening up as Spurs tried desperately to get back on level terms, and there was some end to end play. Valencia passed inside and Pogba hit a right footed shot which Vorm saved, with a corner resulting. At the other end, Valencia made another challenge on Dele, and was shown no card, because, of course, he was already on a yellow.
Dembele was replaced by Wanyama, which did not really add to Spurs chances of creating something special, as it was simply a straight swap. Eriksen hit a free kick from the left, which was met by Dier for Vertonghen to have a shot, but it was well over the target. Time was getting short, and Mourinho was slowing the game down with his substitutions. Dele pushed the ball to Lucas Moura, who fed Eriksen, but his weak shot was easy for De Gea. With time running out, Lucas tried a right footed shot from the edge of the box which was wide. Alexis Sanchez fouled Vertonghen and Spurs substitute Lamela took the free kick from the left which was headed over by Wanyama. Despite a full five minutes of added time Spurs were unable to force a goal to take the game into extra time, meaning that United will make a record 20th appearance in the FA Cup Final. Now that is a record I would like Spurs to achieve!
It's been a horrible week for Spurs with defeats to both Manchester sides and a draw at Brighton. Liverpool dropped two Premier League points at West Brom, giving Spurs a little hope of not only securing Champions League football, but perhaps even climbing above Liverpool who do still have to travel to Chelsea. The end of the season canít come soon enough for me now, but of course I do want my team to win at least three of their last four games! We need to finish with a flourish now to somehow ease the pain of this FA Cup exit.
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