Edged out in cup classic

5 min read
by Ewan Flynn

That his side had played their part in a classic, however, will be of little consolation to Jose Mourinho. Just a few weeks ago, the Tottenham manager had been keen to point out how Spurs were still fighting at the sharp end on four fronts. Suddenly four has become two.

A pulsating fifth-round tie at Goodison Park was settled by Bernard’s extra-time winner as Everton overcame Spurs 5-4 to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals. The result means that Tottenham’s 30-year wait to reclaim the cup they have won eight times goes on.

It had all looked so good for Spurs as they made an explosive start to the match, despite resting Harry Kane on the bench. A slick interchange of passes down the right flank almost had Jose Mourinho’s side ahead inside the first minute. Erik Lamela switched the point of attack to Bergwijn, before sprinting into the box to meet the winger’s menacing cross. The Argentine angled a powerful downward header towards the bottom corner which Robin Olsen clawed out as far as Lucas Moura. The Brazilian forward could not keep his balance, and with the goal gaping, skewed his shot wide.

Spurs, however, were not to be denied the opener for long. With barely three minutes played, Bergwijn forced a corner from Ben Godfrey. Son’s inswinger found Davinson Sanchez rising highest above the home defence to guide a deft header into the far corner. It was the Colombian’s first goal for two years, and only the second of his Tottenham career.

There was an intensity to Tottenham’s football here that has been sorely lacking since the early, goal-laden weeks of their season. Olsen had already made a string of saves when another swift Spurs surge brought the very best out of the Everton keeper. On 25 minutes, Lamela, who orchestrated most of Tottenham’s best attacks, slid a pass into space for Doherty. The full-back pulled a perceptive low ball across the area which Son swept goalwards. Olsen managed to throw up a hand and divert the ball to safety.

Fortunate to have survived the opening half an hour with the loss of only one goal, Everton started to grow as an attacking force. Their equaliser, however, came gift wrapped. Spurs made an ill-judged attempt to play out from the back, hurriedly scraping the ball to Hojbjerg in the left-back position. The Dane’s loose touch left the Tottenham defence badly exposed, enabling Sigurdsson to release Calvert-Lewin with a classy flick. From close range, the striker bludgeoned the ball through Hugo Lloris.

90 seconds later, Spurs, who had threatened to run away with the game, found themselves behind. Calvert-Lewin’s delicate lay-off presented Richarlison a shooting chance from just outside the area. The forward’s strike flew between Toby Alderweireld’s legs as it arrowed into the bottom corner beyond Lloris’s despairing dive.

Before Spurs could clear their heads, Everton’s lead was further extended. The unfortunate Hojbjerg was again culpable. Sigurdsson found space on the left and slipped a ball inside for Calvert-Lewin. As the striker burst into the box, Hojbjerg sent him sprawling with an unwitting trip. Sigurdsson, a picture of serenity while this mad match raged around him, coolly converted his spot-kick. 3-1.

Only alert goalkeeping prevented a fourth Everton goal before the interval. Sanchez was ponderous when attempting to bring down a long punt forward, allowing Richarlison to pounce. Just as the forward looked to be through, Lloris tore from his line to make a goal-saving interception.

There was still yet more to come in this breathless first-half. In the third minute of stoppage-time, Lamela sought a give-and-go with Son. The South Korean’s return pass was weak – but the cumbersome Yerry Mina failed to cut it out. Lamela dashed into the area and lifted the ball over the diving Olsen. Spurs had cut the deficit to just one There was barely time for Everton to take kick-off before David Coote blew for half-time. Everton 3 Tottenham 2.

Shortly after the restart, Mourinho felt compelled to call for Kane. The England captain replaced Bergwijn and Spurs were level five minutes later. Son whipped another of his panic-inducing corners onto Alderweireld’s head. The Belgian’s effort was parried by Olsen but there, reacting first, to prod home his second of the evening was Davinson Sanchez. 3-3.

A relative period of calm then ensued – lasting all of ten minutes before Everton restored their advantage. Much to the Tottenham players’ chagrin, Referee Coote adjudged that Alex Iwobi had committed no foul when relieving Tanguy Ndombele of possession in midfield. Everton worked the ball to Sigurdsson who reversed a measured through-pass behind Sanchez for Richarlison. The forward’s strike across Lloris could not have been better placed.

The Toffees unwisely tried to hold on to their lead by sitting back. Lamela went close from another Son corner on 73 minutes. Olsen flapped at the ball pushing it down towards the penalty spot, where the Argentine was lurking. With the Everton keeper stranded, Lamela sent a skimming half-volley narrowly over the bar.

Olsen was sufficiently spooked by Son’s expert delivery to paw indecisively at another corner with eight minutes remaining. The ball again found it’s way to Lamela, this time at the back post, who hammered a shot goalwards. Doucoure’s headed clearance off the line appeared to have defused the danger. But the ball span back out to Son, who rendered both the Everton goalkeeper and Yerry Mina helpless spectators with a dipping left-foot cross. Kane stole in to head home yet another equaliser from under the crossbar. 4-4

Neither side fashioned a chance to win the game in what remained of the 90 minutes. And so with tired muscles screaming on both sides, the match went to extra-time.

Spurs had an excellent chance to take the lead early in the first period when Lamela smuggled a crafty back-heel through to Kane. But just as the striker looked set to bulge the net from six yards he lost his footing. His tame shot was easily repelled by Olsen.

It would prove a pivotal moment. In the eighth-minute of extra-time, Harry Winks – sent on by Mourinho to restore some poise to a Tottenham side configured to chase the game – was dispossessed. Sigurdsson, who had ruthlessly pounced on Tottenham’s mistakes all evening, was not going to let this go unpunished. The Icelander instantly dinked a sumptuous pass over the ragged Tottenham rearguard for the diminutive Bernard. The Brazilian had timed his run behind Doherty to perfection and showing great composure, allowed the ball to pass across his body before lashing home on the half-volley. 5-4.
There would be no coming back from this one for Spurs.

It was a goal worthy of winning a game that will doubtless enter FA Cup lore. That his side had played their part in a classic, however, will be of little consolation to Jose Mourinho. Just a few weeks ago, the Tottenham manager had been keen to point out how Spurs were still fighting at the sharp end on four fronts. Suddenly four has become two.

All views and opinions expressed in this article are the views and opinions of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of The Fighting Cock. We offer a platform for fans to commit their views to text and voice their thoughts. Football is a passionate game and as long as the views stay within the parameters of what is acceptable, we encourage people to write, get involved and share their thoughts on the mighty Tottenham Hotspur.

Freelance football writer for When Saturday Comes The Blizzard and FourFourTwo. Author of We Are Sunday League

2 Comments

  1. Marco
    11/02/2021 @ 3:15 pm

    Two? You are a hopeful man, Mr. Flynn. Man City will destroy us in the League Cup final. And if, I assume, the second front you refer to is Europa, there are at least a dozen very strong sides capable at any point of burying our dreams in that one as well. Let’s face it, man, for as challenging as the final rounds would have been, the FA Cup was the only realistic chance we had this season. Another year, another dust bunny in the trophy case.

    Reply

  2. Marco
    13/02/2021 @ 2:20 pm

    And the frustration for Spurs’ fans continues apace. Bounced out of the FA Cup, once again, for the 30th year running. In that time, Arsenal have hoisted the chalice TEN TIMES. We are impostors. Seriously, impostors. Spurs think they are something they are not; the football/soccer world places us in “The Big Six” in the English game when in truth there are only five. Spurs have two major trophies in the Premier League era, both of them League Cups. In that same time, the real big teams have combined for 76, by my count. It’s high time we all stop deluding ourselves that we belong at this elite level of excellence and achievement. The only thing truly world-class about us is our stadium, and in the never-ending Age of Covidity, even that now stands as a symbol of futility and folly. Spurs’ legacy will forever be one of disappointment, failure, heartbreak and deception.

    Reply

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