LONDON – It was a night that ticked most of the boxes for a topsy-turvy FA Cup replay. There was terrible defending, a contender for miss of the season and arguments between teammates, not to mention a wild swing in the gameâ€™s fortunes. And at the end Tottenham Hotspur were easy winners.
It had not looked as though that would happen when Burnley surged into a quick-fire two-goal lead. But Tottenham rode the storm and, with Paulinho, Ã‰tienne Capoue and Vlad Chiriches scoring their first goals of the season, they got on top of a Burnley team that ran out of puff.
Tottenhamâ€™s crowded calender now has another entry â€“ they will face Leicester City here in the fourth round â€“ and they will need to dig deep to contend with playing every three or four days.
It was a curious 90 minutes because Tottenham looked ragged at times. Roberto Soldado somehow missed from point-blank range and there was a bit of edginess as Jan Vertonghen and the goalkeeper, Michel Vorm, had squabbles with the returning captain, YounÃ¨s Kaboul.
But Tottenham still had too much for Burnley who were without their usual spine â€“ the captain Jason Shackell, Dean Marney and Danny Ings. Marney did come on as a late substitute but Sean Dyche, the manager, surely had one eye on Saturdayâ€™s Premier League match at home to Crystal Palace. He did not sound too devastated to have his team removed from the Cup. Top-flight survival is everything.
Tottenham showed their character after what was a dreadful start, with the opening goal the result of faintly ludicrous defending. Mauricio Pochettino had restored Kaboul to the centre of defence after an eight-game absence but the Frenchman and Vertonghen were caught out by a long punt forward by Kieran Trippier.
It was taken down by Marvin Sordell and with Kaboul nowhere and Vertonghen trailing in his wake, the striker fizzed a shot past Vorm. The second arrived after Benjamin Stambouli had fouled Trippier in a central position 25 yards from goal. Ross Wallace, one of five changes from the Queens Park Rangers game, hit the free-kick and it deflected heavily off Soldado in the wall to wrong-foot Vorm.
Pochettino talked later of how this could be considered a decent performance by his team if the opening eight minutes could be struck from the record, and they began the comeback immediately. The impressive Andros Townsend stood up a cross, Michael Duff dithered and Soldado flicked on. Having taken a smart touch on his chest, Paulinho hooked past Tom Heaton.
The Brazil midfielder has come to feel like a forgotten man, although not as forgotten as Emmanuel Adebayor who has been fit and available since the league meeting against Burnley here on 20 December. This was the seventh match-day squad in succession from which he was omitted and it does not take a genius to see that Pochettino has lost faith in him.
The Argentinian made seven changes from the team who had lost at Palace on Saturday and there were teething troubles which were exposed when Kaboul and Vertonghen exchanged angry words on 22 minutes, after another communication breakdown.
Vorm would also turn on Kaboul after a mix-up in the second half although Pochettino played down the flare-ups. â€œI like it when they discuss on the pitch because they want to improve,â€ he said. â€œAfter, in the changing room, no problem.â€ Despite the wobbles, Tottenham played on the front foot and they equalised before half-time when Ben Davies crossed, Paulinho tussled with Scott Arfield and the ball ran for Capoue, who thrashed home a low drive.
Soldado was a relieved man. Moments earlier he had somehow found a way to miss from four yards with the goal at his mercy. From Townsendâ€™s inviting low cross he had lifted his shot against the crossbar. He was still shaking his head when he departed at the interval.
It was a fairly standard night for Soldado, heavy on industry and with flashes of promise. He got his second assist when he crossed for Danny Rose to make it 4-2 and he whistled one shot wide and drew a late save out of Heaton. But not for the first time the performance was undermined by his failure to score.
â€œHis attitude is perfect, he only missed the goal,â€ Pochettino said. â€œWe are sorry for him, he deserved to score. But the recompense will come.â€
Tottenham had gone ahead when Chiriches bundled in Paulinhoâ€™s corner at the far post. Dyche disputed the award at the time but the marking was soft. It was not an isolated instance. – The Guardian