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Spurs v Chelsea, 19.03.07


Spurs scorer:-
Keane (pen), 79

Chelsea scorers:-
Shevchenko, 55
Wright-Phillips, 61

Attendance: - 35,519

Referee: - M. Atkinson

Spurs (4-3-1-2):- Robinson; Chimbonda, Dawson, Rocha (sub Stalteri, 83), Lee; Jenas, Zokora, Malbranque (sub Defoe, 63); Lennon; Berbatov, Keane (Capt.)

Subs not used: - Cerny; Huddlestone, Ghaly

Booked: - Chimbonda

Chelsea (4-1-3-2):- Cech; Diarra (sub Ferreira, 90), Carvalho, Terry (Capt.), Cole; Mikel; Ballack, Lampard, Wright-Phillips (sub Kalou, 86); Drogba, Shevchenko (sub Robben, 81)

Subs not used: - Cudicini; Boulahrouz

Booked: - Diarra, Drogba, Cech
Post match information confirms that Carvalho also received a yellow card

Spurs were edged out of another exciting Cup tie, thanks to quality goals by Shevchenko, and Wright-Phillips. In the case of the latter, it was the best goal I can recall seeing him score, and perhaps the best of his career. Once again this season, Spurs have conceded and lost to “wonder goals”, and yet again, we were made to rue losing the two goal lead held in the first episode of a crucial cup tie against a fellow London side.

Spurs had matched Chelsea pound for pound (not financially of course), and Cech was clearly the busier of the two keepers, although neither was required to make a sensational save. Having gone two goals down, Martin Jol brought on Jermain Defoe, and Spurs battled away, winning a penalty that ensured the closing stages were as nervy for the visiting supporters, as they were tense for home fans.

Jol was able to field virtually a first choice side, with the obvious exception of skipper Ledley King, and this time, Aaron Lennon started behind the strikers, but was given freedom to wander across the line. In the second half, Lennon focussed his efforts upon right back Lassana Diarra, who had been victim to Lennon’s expertise in the Stamford Bridge game. It was mainly due to Lennon’s second half efforts that Spurs did put the visitors under pressure, but in the end, it was all for nought.

Jose Mourinho again left Makelele out of the starting line-up, and this time it was Mikel who stood in front of the Blues’ defence, with Ballack, Lampard and Sean Wright-Phillips supporting Drogba and Shevchenko. With Terry back at the helm, Chelsea were going to be a much harder nut to crack, and I felt that overall, Berbatov and Keane were not as incisive as necessary.

Spurs kicked off playing towards Paxton Road, which is unusual, and they took the early initiative, with Berbatov and Lee on the left, feeding the ball via Jenas to Chimbonda who had found some precious space, tried a shot, which was saved by Cech. Then Berbatov threaded a ball for Malbranque, whose effort was blocked. Spurs were fluid in the midfield, and created a couple more half chances too.

Chelsea’s first effort of note came when Drogba headed down for Ballack’ whose shot was just wide, with Robinson not able to cover. The Spurs keeper did then hold a long range effort by the German midfielder. After 16 minutes, Lampard led a Chelsea counter-attack, and eventually the ball fell for Wright-Phillips, who tried a shot from 25 yards that had Robinson stretching, but which was just over the bar anyway. Robinson did have this one covered. Jenas put in a great ball after 26 minutes, from the right, which Berbatov so nearly reached.

Diarra got an early booking for a foul on Lennon, and Drogba soon saw yellow too for dissent when things did not go his way. It was cat and mouse for the rest of the half, and as half-time approached Spurs fans half thought there might be a valid penalty appeal when Chimbonda went down just inside the box. We were being too hopeful!

Spurs started the second half well, wining successive corners, from one of which a defender headed the ball backwards across the area, where Chimbonda fired directly at Cech. Zokora picked out Malbranque after 56 minutes, with a great ball down the left channel. Malbranque worked his way into a shooting position, but the shot lacked power and was easy meat for Cech. Spurs were working so well, and Jenas passed Cole by, and his cross reached Lee of all people, who was not the best man for the easy shot to the keeper. Lennon got to the bye line, but his cross from the left, inside the area, missed Berbatov.

The only hard work I recall for Robinson up to this point was to punch out a Chelsea corner under pressure. Dawson and Rocha had both dominated in the air, and as a unit, Spurs had defended well, until Wright-Phillips raced down the middle and spread the play to Shevchenko on the right. Malbranque’s challenge faltered, and the Ukrainian got the ball onto his left foot from the right side of the box, and beat Robinson with a supreme curling shot. Chelsea got a second, 6 minutes later, when Drogba chested down the ball for Wright-Phillips who was on the opposite side of the area to where Shevchenko had scored. Wright-Phillips repeated the scoring mechanism with a similar shot around Robinson to the far corner.

Urged on by their fans, Spurs fought hard to get back on terms, and hope improved, when Carvalho brought down Berbatov in the area, after Defoe’s ball. There was no card for Carvalho, but Robbie Keane slotted home the penalty for his 14th goal of the season. Cech got a card for kicking the ball away, as Spurs wanted a quick re-start and Chelsea used every trick in the book (including three substitutions) to use up time. Despite that there must have been 6 minutes of added time, and try as they did, Spurs just could not forge a way through the defence, or a real shot on goal.

There was an unsavoury scene at the end when a Spurs “fan” invaded the pitch and took a swing at Lampard. This may cause repercussions for Spurs from the FA.

On the football front, having reached the quarter-finals in all three cup competitions, we must now hope we can surpass Seville, after the forthcoming International break.

Chelsea have now matched Spurs by reaching their 17th FA Cup semi-final, and it looks like “The Big Two” will be playing in the first FA Cup Final at the new Wembley.

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

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