Thriller Sees Everton Edge Tottenham Hotspur to Reach FA Cup Quarter Finals
Goals Galore as FA Cup Magic is Alive and Well
The FA Cup has been much maligned in recent years but at Goodison Park on Wednesday evening, two Premier League teams showed that it is still a competition that deserves respect and is a trophy that clubs want to win.
The last time that Everton and Spurs met in the FA Cup was the 1995 FA Cup semi-final at Elland Road, which Everton won 4-1 and went on to beat Manchester United in the final for their last piece of silverware. Tottenham last won the FA Cup 30 years ago and for them, the wait goes on as Everton edged the nine-goal thriller.
Tottenham Fast Out of the Blocks
Jose Mourinho has been criticised for Spurs playing too defensively this season but in this FA Cup tie, there was no defensive tactics at all. Not even a minute had passed before Erik Lamela nearly headed Spurs ahead but Robin Olsen produced a great save, only for Lucas Moura to stumble when he should have scored.
Two minutes later and Spurs had the lead from the most unlikely of sources when Davinson Sanchez headed home a Son Heung-min corner. Olsen was kept busy with further shots from Son and Lamela before the game turned on its head and Everton went into a 3-1 lead.
Individual Errors Cost Spurs Again
Mourinho has bemoaned individual errors costing Spurs this season and they reared their ugly head once more to ultimately see Spurs dumped out of the FA Cup.
Hugo Lloris had made two good saves from Dominic Calvert-Lewin, but when Everton equalised, it was all down to Spurs hitting the self destruct button. Lloris, Ben Davies and Pierre Emile-Hojbjerg tried to play out from the back and the latter gave the ball away. Calvert-Lewin hit a powerful shot that was straight at Lloris, who inexplicably fell backwards and allowed the shot to hit his hand, and Everton were level. It was another Jekyll and Hyde performance from the World Cup-winning keeper, occasionally keeping his team in the game but then making costly mistakes.
There was little that the Frenchman could do to keep out Richarlison’s goal to make it 2-1 before Hojbjerg was again the man to cause Spurs’ own problems when he tripped Calvert-Lewin in the box. From the resulting penalty, Gylfi Sigurdsson netted and Spurs’ bright start was undone.
The game continued to see-saw at pace with Lamela pulling one back for Spurs on the stroke half time, Sanchez getting a second to make it 3-3, Richarlison making it 4-3 with his second and Harry Kane heading home from a Son cross to make it 4-4 and take the game to extra time.
It was Kane who should have won the game for Spurs but slipped as he went to shoot, before Bernard fired the hosts into the quarter-finals.
Tottenham’s Defence – A Conundrum
In the Premier League, Spurs have the second-best defence after league leaders Manchester City, who they visit on Saturday. It is a statistic that is hard to understand and has perhaps been lost in the fact that Mourinho’s team have been so erratic.
Mourinho has been keen to get his players defending as an entire unit defending from the front as opposed to attacking from the back. When Spurs beat Manchester City and Arsenal at home this season, much of those successes was due to solid defending, everyone putting bodies on the line for the team and breathtaking counter attacks.
Now, players are failing to do the simple things. As good as Bernard’s winner was following a delightful chipped pass from Sigurdsson, Toby Alderweireld and Matt Doherty were too slow in pushing up, leaving the player onside to fire home the winner.
Everton Edge Tottenham Hotspur as Mourinho’s Side Suffering Identity Crisis
Spurs fans have been unhappy with recent performances and results, in particular, the home defeats to Liverpool and Chelsea in the Premier League due to the negative style of football. There was a more attacking flow in the win over West Bromwich Albion and against Everton, it was a gung-ho style of football. The sort of attacking style that fans expect from Tottenham.
The result, though, is still alarmingly the same – defeat. The performance against Everton was reminiscent of Spurs under Osvaldo Ardiles where scoring four goals was no guarantee of victory.
The dilemma that Mourinho faces is how to get the right balance of defence and attack. If Tottenham could defend as they did against Manchester City and Arsenal earlier in the season and attack as they did against Everton, the manager would have a team that no one else would want to play. The attacking talent is not in question.
If Spurs do not eradicate the individual errors they will not only find themselves losing more games, they will find themselves heading for another season where the result is one of promise but one that is not fulfilled.