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Spurs survive early scare

Jermain Defoe drove Spurs to within 90 minutes of Wembley last night, seeing off a spirited Stevenage side with two wonderful examples of the finisher's art.

Only Bolton, guests here in the next round on March 17, stand in the way of Defoe and Co making a semi-final visit to Wembley. Spurs were made to work for their passage into the sixth round and victory also came at a cost. Michael Dawson appeared to rupture ankle ligaments and Aaron Lennon damaged a hamstring.

Still, Spurs looked relieved at the final whistle while Stevenage's wonderful fans serenaded their fans with "we're proud of you".

Within three minutes, White Hart Lane had reverberated to "one-nil to the Stevenage''. Joel Byrom drove down the inside-right channel, and was fouled in the box by Ryan Nelsen. Byrom thumped the penalty past Carlo Cudicini.

It took 25 minutes, and a long ball, for Spurs to find the mark. As Nelsen drilled the ball upfield, Defoe's movement lost his marker. Controlling the ball with his right foot, he then caught it superbly with his left. The ball raced the 20 yards past Chris Day.

Then Rafael Van der Vaart picked out Gareth Bale on the left and the Welshman embarked on a dribble, cutting inside, exchanging passes and driving down the inside-right corridor before being fouled in the area. Emmanuel Adebayor did the rest.

Spurs moved up a gear, making it 3-1 with 15 minutes remaining. Latching on to Bale's throw-in, Defoe cut in from the left, transferred the ball on to his right foot and placed it unerringly past Day. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent