Spurs survive FA Cup scare despite Roberto Soldado slip up
FA Cup third-round replay, Tottenham Hotspur v Burnley – Four goals from four players sees Mauricio Pochettino's side set up fourth-round tie with Leicester City
Despite the thrilling comeback that secured an FA Cup fourth-round date against Leicester City, this was not a night for Tottenham Hotspur heroes.
It was instead a tie in which two pantomime villains, Roberto Soldado and Younes Kaboul, attempted to upstage each other in a contest over who could be more dreadful.
Soldado produced one of the worst misses to be witnessed at White Hart Lane. The nickname Loldado may be cruel, but this was laugh-out-loud stuff from the Spaniard.
To have shouted at Soldado for his four-yard miss would have been akin to kicking a puppy, such is the £26 million signing’s helpless demeanour. Instead, Andros Townsend put a consoling arm around the shoulder of the 29-year-old.
Head coach Mauricio Pochettino offered kind words to Soldado by saying: “Always it is tough for a striker when he doesn’t score, but I am very happy with his performance. He knows that we support him.
“The most important thing is that he always fights and tries to give the best. His attitude is perfect, he only missed the goal. In football you don’t need to apologise.”
Captain Kaboul did not escape the wrath of his team-mates, as his comical defending was first admonished by Jan Vertonghen before stand-in goalkeeper Michel Vorm also decided to have words. “I like it when players discuss things on the pitch, because they want to improve,” said Pochettino. “This is only an action in a match, but after, in the changing room, no problem.”
How Kaboul and Soldado ended up on the winning team remains a mystery, particularly to Burnley, who threw away an early two-goal lead.
It was Kaboul who was badly caught out by a long punt up the pitch by Burnley right-back Kieran Trippier and Marvin Sordell volleyed the ball past Vorm to open the scoring.
A half-empty White Hart Lane fell largely silent and there was another shock to come just five minutes later, as Burnley doubled their lead when a Ross Wallace free-kick took a wicked deflection off Soldado and wrong-footed Vorm. Soldado would usually be happy for any sort of goal off his backside, but this one was not so welcome. There was worse to follow.
Ahead of kick-off, it had looked like this replay would struggle to replicate the drama at Upton Park 24 hours earlier, but a third goal inside the first 10 minutes suggested there could be another crazy night ahead.
Spurs got themselves back in the tie, as Townsend beat Ben Mee on the right and his cross was headed on by Soldado before the ball was taken on his chest by Paulinho and volleyed into the net.
As Burnley continued to threaten the Spurs defence, Kaboul and Vertonghen exchanged heated words with the pair apparently accusing each other of being out of position.
Tottenham’s fans, behind the goal that Kaboul and Vertonghen argued in front of, showed which player they backed by singing the Belgian’s name.
The first half had started in chaotic fashion and finished in a crazy manner, as Soldado first put forward his now annual personal entry for miss of the season and then Etienne Capoue equalised.
Referee Craig Pawson played a good advantage when Scott Arfield fouled Paulinho in the centre of the park, allowing Soldado to run free with the ball. He found Townsend on the right and the winger produced the perfect cross. But, from just four yards out, Soldado somehow sliced the ball on to the crossbar.
Soldado failed to score from a similar distance against FC Dnipro in the Europa League in February last year. Not even former Spurs forward Ronny Rosenthal, who hit the bar from four yards for Liverpool in 1992, repeated the trick twice.
Fortunately for Spurs, Burnley’s defenders must still have been shocked by Soldado’s blunder, as Ben Davies managed to cross from the left in first-half stoppage time and Capoue was left unmarked to fire in the equaliser.
Having fallen two goals behind in the first eight minutes of the first half, Tottenham completed their comeback by claiming their own two-goal advantage within seven minutes of the restart.
Burnley manager Sean Dyche was angry that a corner was awarded, when Vlad Chiriches appeared to shoot wide, and the Romanian took full advantage as he bundled Paulinho’s set-piece over the line.
Then, in the 52nd minute, Soldado showed that he can produce an end product without a goal in front of him by crossing for Danny Rose to give the home side a cushion.
Despite the fact the remainder of the game was relatively comfortable for Spurs, Kaboul still did enough wrong to annoy Vorm, who remonstrated with the Frenchman, while Soldado missed two more chances.
“I was enthused by the team early on and the performance, because players are champing at the bit to make a point and get themselves back in the team,” said Dyche. “It was just the details that really hurt us.”
Tottenham will now finish January with five games in 15 days, which includes a two-legged Capital One Cup semi-final against Sheffield United.
Kaboul and Soldado cannot afford another night like this.
Meanwhile League One Bradford hammered Championship opponents Millwall 4-0 at Valley Parade to set up a money-spinning fourth-round trip to Premier League leaders Chelsea.
James Hanson, Jon Stead, Andy Halliday and Billy Knott scored the goals against Millwall, who had Mark Beevers sent off. Bradford manager Phil Parkinson and assistant Steve Parkin were sent to the stands for their part in the melee.