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Spurs v Liverpool, 01.12.04

CARLING CUP FIFTH ROUND
WEDNESDAY 1ST DECEMBER, 2004
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0) LIVERPOOL 1 (0)
a.e.t (score 0-0 after 90 minutes, Liverpool won 4-3 on penalties)

Spurs scorer:-
Defoe, 108

Liverpool scorer:-
Pongolle (pen), 117

Referee:- Neale Barry

Attendance:- 36,100

Teams:-
Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Pamarot, King (Capt.), Gardner, Atouba; Ricketts (sub Defoe, 65), Brown, Carrick, Ziegler; Kanoute, Keane (sub Mendes, 85)

Subs not used:- Fulop; Naybet; Redknapp

Booked:- Pamarot, Gardner

Liverpool (4-4-2):- Dudek (Capt.); Raven, Henchoz, Whitbread, Warnock; Nunez (sub Smyth, 69), Biscan, Diao (sub Partridge, 110), Potter; Mellor (sub Welsh, 52), Pongolle

Subs not used:- Kirkland; Foy

Booked:- Welsh

Frederic Kanoute has to hold his hands up (as he did inexplicably last night to concede the penalty that took away Spurs 108th minute lead) and admit that he was a major offender in another Fifth Round League Cup exit, when Spurs snatched defeat from the closing jaws of victory and stumbled off their only possible path to glory this season. Kanoute is not the only villain of the piece, despite the fact that he failed with his penalty in the shoot-out, as Michael Brown fired his effort way over the bar to allow Sinama-Pongolle to take the headlines for his clinching penalty in the shoot-out, after he had slotted home the equaliser in the 117th minute.

There were other villains last night for Spurs. Robbie Keane had at least three good chances, and should have scored at least one from those, and that's being charitable. Some of the distribution from many quarters was woeful, and Spurs lacked invention in periods when they were bossing the game.

It's time to remember that Spurs conquerors were most definitely a Liverpool Reserve side, and credit to them for their stamina, determination, and for creating real chances for themselves after being under the cosh in the first half. Credit too to the Liverpool fans who travelled in the knowledge that they would be seeing their youngsters, making sure that a full house was at White Hart Lane.

Many Spurs fans are angry today, and that's understandable, but really it was just another episode in the continuing saga of Spurs under-achievement. I would say there was apathy from some players last night; a real lack of passion and desire to use the killer touch against these boys, some of whom have hardly seen the light of first team football. Right back David Raven for one was making his debut, ad made a terrific saving tackle from Defoe in the first period of extra time.

Some people have been singing the praises of Michael Carrick after Sunday's win. I wasn't over-impressed with him then, and felt that last night was an occasion when he could have bossed the game single-handed. That didn't happen. Occasionally he took the corners, and usually gave the ball away. Yes, he is a craftsman in the middle with some cultured passes, but he failed too often, in my view. Atouba at left back, thrilled and entertained us at times with skill, but also put the fear of God up us, with too many passes across the penalty area. Ricketts had a glorious chance with a header, but unfortunately, he should have been the provider, rather than the receiver of Kanoute's cross.

Perhaps Martin Jol will regret resting Mendes and Defoe, who might have helped to secure the game had they started.

Despite his ultimate villainy, Kanoute did plenty to excite the fans, starting with a good turn and right foot shot from Ziegler's cross, hitting the top of the bar with his shot after just 5 minutes. The omens were good. Five minutes later, the first of several incisive balls from Michael Brown was sent by Keane into the path of the advancing Ziegler, but too close to Liverpool skipper Dudek. Ziegler had another chance from a Brown pass, hitting his shot high into the side netting from the back of the area. Ricketts' chance came after 19 minutes, when Kanoute sent a great ball from the right corner flag. Rohan's header was glanced wide instead of being sent with power into the net. I was already wondering whether Spurs would pay the penalty for not taking such chances. It is a fact that Spurs did dominate possession and had far more shots on and off target.

Liverpool did not have a meaningful chance in the first half, whilst Ricketts hit a shot wide across the goal, and then Keane deprived by desperate defence and the keeper from short range at the back post after a short corner involving Ziegler and Ricketts. Kanoute was fouled in injury time at the end of the half, and Ziegler's kick went straight to Dudek.

Neil Mellor, who might have been considered the main threat, was replaced by England under-21 John Welsh early in the second half, and it wasn't long before he got his name in referee Neale Barry's book. Spurs had more chances, as Kanoute headed down for Keane who rounded the defence and Dudek, then fired high into the side netting. Keane was very nearly the recipient of a great Carrick Ball over the defence, but the Reds were withholding the tide. Keane had yet another shot well saved by Dudek, tipping the ball over for a corner, as Kanoute had once again been the provider. Keane had not been able to hit the ball with full power. The ball ran for Ricketts, but he did demonstrate good skill down the right. Kanoute sent the ball into Carrick's path, but Dudek was first on the scene again.

Until now, Liverpool had been happy to get men behind the ball, with Pongolle more often than not a lone striker in something like the Christmas Tree formation, but, as full time loomed the visitors took the initiative more, and Welsh had a decent effort from distance held by Robinson in front of the South Stand. A shot from another new boy - Smyth - was also held by the England keeper. A moment of controversy came in the 78th minute as Anthony Gardener cynically fouled Pongolle, but was let off with a yellow card, as Mr. Barry deemed that Ledley King was within range of the attack. Spurs had to make some desperate blocks themselves with 5 minutes of normal time left, from Biscan and Welsh.

An early night was denied us then, as extra time commenced. Carrick, Ziegler and Mendes combined to give Kanoute a chance, but his left foot rising shot went just over the bar. John Welsh had an excellent shot across goal that really worried Robinson, but curled outside the post. That saving tackle by Raven to deny Defoe came when Spurs broke well, with Kanoute sending Jermain away. Defoe had a shot saved after the extra-time break, then Brown's shot from the edge of the area went to Dudek's hands.

At last, Spurs took what we thought would be the decisive lead, and it was a great goal, similar to Sunday's Defoe goal against Middlesbrough. Michael Brown was the provider of a great ball from half-way to Kanoute, whose cross to the near post was crashed in first time by Defoe. The joy was not to last for long, and the build-up to the equaliser was neglectful on Spurs' part. They had a defensive throw and managed to concede a free kick inside their own half. Robinson made a great save from Pongolle's header, tipping the ball over for a corner, from which Kanoute turned his back on the ball, and needlessly waved an arm in the air to handle and concede the penalty. He didn't know what he was doing, and maybe there's an argument for "ball to hand", but Pongolle stepped up and beat Robinson with ease to bring about the shoot out, which went as follows:-

Defoe scores convincingly, matched by Henchoz......1-1
Carrick beats Dudek, Partridge levels.......................2-2
Kanoute half-hits a shot saved by Dudek to his left. Potter's shot to the right of Robinson is tipped onto the outside of the post.....2-2
Michael Brown dismally scoops over the bar, whilst Welsh scores........................2-3
Ziegler shows Brown and Kanoute how it's done, but Pongolle scores again........3-4

What was it Peter Cook once said? "I can stand the disappointment, it's the hope that kills me"

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