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I took chances - Harry

Posted on 25 March 2010  - 12:00

Harry Redknapp admitted he took 'a few gambles' to get us back on the road to Wembley against Fulham - gambles that paid off handsomely.

I took chances - Harry

Harry Redknapp admitted he took 'a few gambles' to get us back on the road to Wembley against Fulham - gambles that paid off handsomely.

Trailing 1-0 at half-time, Harry made two key changes by introducing Tom Huddlestone and David Bentley for Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Niko Kranjcar.

Both were back in the action after only returning to training on Tuesday after an ankle injury and a virus respectively. Wilson Palacios also overcame a late injury scare and a fitness test to take his place in the side and Roman Pavlyuchenko was named on the bench despite suffering a hamstring problem at Stoke on Saturday.

The half-time changes meant a reshuffle with Gareth Bale reverting back to left-back, Luka Modric moving from central midfield to wide left with Tom partnering Wilson centrally and David wide right.

The impact was immediate as David whipped in a free-kick that sailed into the far corner for the equaliser just over a minute into the second half.

Disaster then struck as Vedran Corluka hobbled out of the action with an ankle problem.

This time Harry went for the jugular, introducing striker Roman, dropping Eidur Gudjohnsen into centre midfield and switching Wilson to right-back in place of Vedran.

But once again, the manager had the midas touch. Just over seven minutes later, substitutes combined to perfection to hand us a 2-1 lead as David crossed deep for Roman to volley home spectacularly on the full volley.

Roman was involved again in the move that led to the crucial third goal just over five minutes later, superbly finished by Eidur.

Typically, Fulham fought back late on but the scoreline stayed at 3-1 and players and fans alike were left to celebrate a return to Wembley for a semi-final date with Portsmouth on Sunday, April 11.

Eidur

The mood at the full-time whistle was of a stark contrast to the mood at half-time.

"We didn't press them in the first half," explained Harry. "We were always three or four yards short of being close enough and I just felt we played at a slow tempo.

"When they get set-up Fulham are such a well-organised team.

"The longer you take to play the more difficult it is because they cut off all the areas you want to play in, so you've got to play quickly. We didn't do that, we played slowly and we didn't get going in the first half.

"I just said at half-time that I think we need to pick the pace of the game up if we are going to stay in the cup and I think it was important that we did that and I took a few gambles, made a couple of changes, I took a chance.

"I took a gamble with Tom's fitness. Yesterday (Tuesday) was his first day back on the training ground and David Bentley as well, he came on and made an instant impact with the goal.

"I was trying to hold Pav back as long as I could because he has got a hamstring problem. I could have brought someone else on at right-back but I thought let's get him on now and got for it and we did.

"Wilson went to right-back and did a great job there as well, it's amazing how he played, but that's Wilson. Eidur went back in to central midfield and did a fantastic job. It was a great comeback and all the lads have played their part."