FA CUP FIFTH ROUND
SUNDAY 18TH FEBRUARY, 2007
FULHAM 0 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4 (1)
Keane, 6, 68
Berbatov, 77, 90
Attendance: - 18,655
Referee: - Mark Halsey
Fulham (4-4-2):- Lastuvka; Volz, Knight (Capt.), Christanval, Queudrue; Davies, Smertin, Diop, Radzinski (sub Dempsey, 66); Helguson (sub Montella, 61), McBride (sub John, 61)
Subs not used: - Warner; Bocanegra
Booked: - Diop, Queudrue (both for fouls on Lennon)
Sent off: - Montella (90 Ė for violent conduct Ė elbow on Keane)
Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Chimbonda, Dawson, Gardner, Lee; Lennon (sub Ghaly, 82), Zokora, Tainio, Malbranque; Mido (sub Berbatov, 72), Keane (Capt.)
Subs not used: - Cerny; Rocha; Huddlestone
Booked: - Gardner, Keane
Spurs exceeded expectations yesterday, with four top class goals to secure their most significant win of 2007 to date. Indeed, this may be Spursí most significant win of the season, following the triple disappointment of Carling Cup defeat to the old enemy, a home thrashing by Manchester United, and last weekís loss at Bramall Lane. Such was the bitter disappointment amongst many Spurs fans that they even failed to fill the away stand at Craven Cottage, as they had done for the recent Premiership game, where Spurs, true to form had failed to win. The 3,000 plus that did attend were rewarded with Spursí biggest away win in the FA Cup since Ronnie Rosenthalís hat-trick induced 6-2 at Southampton in March 1995!
Spurs had had a full week to prepare themselves physically and mentally for this game. Perhaps part of the psychology was to ditch the usual away strip for domestic games in favour of the Chocolate strip, in which they have achieved so much success on European soil this season. Robbie Keane (scorer of great goals, but not necessarily a great scorer of goals) hit two magnificent volleys, after assists by Mido, who was replaced by Berbatov, whose utter class put the seal on a win where Spurs actually had only 40% of the possession. Paul Robinson made several excellent saves, and ironically, one of the best was from Mido, who went through the mill from his keeper, when he over-hit a back pass from 40 yards, and then from the corner, got the last headed touch, which required a Robinson save.
Spurs were missing the suspended Jermain Defoe and Jermaine Jenas, plus of course the injured Captain, Ledley King. Fulham missed their Captain, former Spur Michael Brown, who had played so well against us in January, but they did include Simon Davies on the right flank, and recent signing Alexey Smertin, who formerly displayed his wares in another part of West London.
Spurs got the best of starts, having held their own for the first 5 minutes, when Mido flicked on Robinsonís clearance, and after one bounce, Robbie Keane hit a cracking right foot shot from 20 yards, well past Lastuvkaís right hand. Would Spurs be able to hold onto a lead and keep a clean sheet for a change against Premiership opposition? Well, they didnít exactly sit back, but the defence was fully occupied, particularly by Brian McBride, from whom Robinson made a great save to tip over a deflected 18th minute shot for a corner. Lennon had been trying to break out for Spurs, but had been cynically hacked down by both Diop and Queudrue, both of whom had their names taken by referee Mark Halsey, who is not one of the favourites around Craven Cottage.
The upset between Robinson and Mido came after 36 minutes, and after Robinson had to dive low to his right to get hold of Midoís headed from a Fulham attack, the Spurs keeper told the striker in no uncertain terms where to go!
I felt that Spurs were letting the Fulham midfield come onto us a little too much, without challenging and winning quite enough in the middle. It was the back five who excelled defensively, with less corners being conceded, dominant headers from Dawson and Gardner, and Lee and Chimbonda playing their way out of trouble. Malbranque battled hard in support of Lee, but until we went two up, there was always that fear that something might go wrong.
Robinson made another decent save after 49 minutes, from McBrideís shot, and then five minutes later held a header from Helguson. At the other end, Lennon had a great shot parried and saved by the Fulham keeper, and then Robbo was in action again beating away Diopís long shot, before retrieving the ball safely. Fulham made a double substitution of their strike force, and then Dempsey replaced Radzinski, but it was Spurs who went two up, when Mido flicked on a free kick, and this time Robbie took the ball truly on the volley with the ball coming over his shoulder. Keane hit another cracking right footed shot over the keeper, and celebrated in front of the away stand.
Fulham didnít give up, and Volz hit a powerful drive from fully 20 yards, which Robinson stretched for and tipped over the bar. Mido was replaced by Berbatov, and Fulham might have reduced the arrears from their best move of the match, when Diop threaded a ball through for Collins John, whose right foot shot went over the bar. Spurs responded from defence with one of Zokoraís trademark runs, when he put in Berbatov on the left channel. Berbatov cut back, and hit a right foot shot that beat the keeper but rebounded off the far post, goalside of Lastuvka. Berbatov was alert, and put the ball back under the goalie with his left foot, to truly put Spurs into the quarter-finals for the second time in three seasons.
Now Spurs started to play with panache, and you started to think if only they could play without the shackles on for so much more of the season. Keane sent Lennon into the area, and whilst the ball ran beyond him out of play, he was tripped by Lastuvka. Mark Halsey seemed to be in three minds about his decision, before awarding a goal-kick. Keane broke through for himself on the right hand side, and his first shot was saved, then his second attempt was deflected for a corner.
None of seemed to believe the fourth goal, but Berbatov had legitimately avoided the offside trap in the last minute, when Keane flicked over the defence, and Berby nonchalantly dinked the ball over the keeper for a goal that we delayed celebrating, thinking the linesmanís flag would be raised.
The action was not quite over, as Montella elbowed Keane in a midfield tussle, and deservedly saw red, whilst Keane got booked for doing nothing in return.
We must all hope that Spurs can carry this sort of form into one or both of their Premiership games this week, starting at Goodison Park on Wednesday night.
∑ Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
∑ Read the preview for this game.
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