Monday, 28 January 2013

FA.Cup: Leeds United 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1

Neil Warnock saluted his heroic players after they pulled off a famous FA Cup win over Premiership giants Tottenham at Elland Road. Goals from Luke Varney and Ross McCormack earned the Whites a 2-1 victory and they will now look forward to a fifth round tie against another of the big boys, Manchester City, with the game to take place at the Etihad Stadium on the weekend of February 16 and 17. Spurs did pull a goal back through Clint Dempsey to ensure an exciting finish, but went the way of previous Premier League clubs Everton and Southampton in losing a cup tie at Elland Road this season. Leeds boss Warnock was understandably delighted. He said: “I’ll probably open a bottle of champagne and have a few little tipples. I’m sure I’ll be able to do something like that. I might even treat myself to a bag of crisps.” “It’s a fabulous day for everybody. Not just because we won the game, but we had a few problems a few weeks ago, there was a little bit of dissent around the place. “We go to Birmingham and nobody expected us to win and 1,500 fans followed us, and today was a thank you to them because they got behind us and we ended up winning that game, which gave us the opportunity to play Spurs. “I really enjoyed the match. We didn’t get anything other than what we deserved. “They played a strong team. To see Bale, Lennon and Parker in that team and to beat them is fabulous.” Tottenham made five changes from the side that drew with Manchester United the previous week, but still fielded a strong side which included star wingers Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale and England midfielders Scott Parker and Tom Huddlestone. They looked in control early on before out of the blue Leeds went ahead on 15 minutes when Varney raced onto captain for the day Michael Brown’s ball down the line and cut in to place the ball past keeper Brad Friedel. Increased confidence from the goal saw United go forward again and Varney shot over in the box as McCormack laid the ball back to him after meeting El Hadji Diouf’s cross. Dempsey forced the first serious save from home keeper Jamie Ashdown with a flicked shot and Ashdown parried a Huddlestone long range strike three minutes later. Spurs were suddenly looking more creative and Ashdown had to save at his near post after Bale nutmegged Lee Peltier to get free inside the area. But Tom Lees sent a header over and in the last minute of the first half McCormack was clean through from a Varney head on only to be unable to beat Friedel. Leeds had been one up st half-time in their last big cup tie against Premiership opposition only for Chelsea to sting them with five second half goals. But this time it was United who scored early on to double their lead as Diouf’s pass sent McCormack running clear and he had time to take on the last covering defender, making space to lash a left foot shot past Friedel into the corner. At 2-0 the hosts had breathing space and they needed it as Spurs hit back straight away and should have scored with Dempsey squandering a great chance with a close range volley after being set up by Leeds old boy Lennon. The visitors did score soon after, though, when Lees was caught napping at the near post, allowing Dempsey to send a glancing header into the net from Bale’s cross. The expected Spurs onslaught did not materialise from this point, however, even though they threw on all three substitutes, including internationals Mousa Dembele and Kyle Walker. The young home defence rose to the occasion and it was United who came closest to another goal when McCormack was clean through again only to see his shot saved at close range by Friedel. In a frantic finish Tottenham finally turned up the heat, but when sub John Obika raced through he was denied by a superb covering tackle from Lee Peltier. A free-kick five minutes into injury-time saw keeper Friedel go up into the box, but Leeds cleared and the final whistle blew, to the disappointment of some home fans as Rodolph Austin looked certain to score with no Spurs player in his own half to stop his shot. It did not matter, United were through to the fifth round for the first time in 10 years.

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