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Late show books Wembley date

Posted on 21 January 2009  - 12:00

Roman Pavlyuchenko and Jermain Defoe scored inside the final three minutes to claw back a 3-0 deficit at Burnley and book a place in the Carling Cup Final by a 6-4 aggregate margin.

Late show books Wembley date

Roman Pavlyuchenko and Jermain Defoe scored inside the final three minutes to claw back a 3-0 deficit at Burnley and book a place in the Carling Cup Final by a 6-4 aggregate margin.

It appeared that Burnley were on their way to Wembley after our 4-1 lead from White Hart Lane was cancelled out with one first half goal and two in the second half at Turf Moor.

With three minutes of extra time remaining and the aggregate score locked at 4-4 we were on our way out with Burnley's goal from the first leg set to count double.

Thankfully, Pavlyuchenko produced another fine finish to tip the semi-final back in our favour before Defoe made sure with seconds left to make it 3-2 on the night, 6-4 on aggregate.

The wind was swirling the rain around under the pylons suspending the lights at Turf Moor as a thunderous reception received the teams onto the pitch. The first leg deficit did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the home crowd and this came very close to being reduced via an unlikely source in the sixth minute.

To echoes of 'when the Spurs' behind the goal, debut-making goalkeeper Ben Alnwick was forced into an emergency stop. A Benoit Assou-Ekotto interception was somewhat overcooked and the ball looked to the sailing over the head of the advanced Alnwick and into an empty net when the goalkeeper stretched every sinew and managed to tip just around the post.

It was an early warning shot that said clearly that we were going to be offered no easy ticket to Wembley, although Burnley's task would have been steeper had Brian Jensen not managed to thwart Jermain Defoe - although not altogether convincingly - just moments later.

After the initial flurry, goalscoring chances were at a premium for the next 20 minutes, there was no lessening of the intensity level, but the defending became more regimented and opportunity was not knocking for either side.

Robbie Blake fizzed across the face of goal with 32 minutes on the clock as Burnley attempted to raise the tempo ahead of the break and they got their boost two minutes later from set piece a few yards outside the area.

Blake curled around the assembled wall and beyond the reach of Alnwick to hand Burnley a pre-interval tonic, before David Bentley free-kick from the right caused a good degree of panic in the home guard a few minutes later.

It should perhaps be noted that Burnley were playing with the wind in the first half, with the icy rain blowing into their backs as opposed to their faces. Whether this was an advantage or not that would become clear later.

A Luka Modric turn and shot provided our opening salvo of the second half, where the conditions were now firmly against the home team and it was certainly showing in their approach play early on that was lacking the zip of the first period.

Gareth Bale replaced Jamie O'Hara just after the hour in our first change of the game. He looked like he'd made an instant impact with a cross that landed at the feet of Bentley, but his effort struck a post and he was deemed to be offside anyway.

The young Welshman then burst down the left, leaving his markers in his wake, before unfortunately dragging his shot wide. Modric was then withdrawn, with Roman Pavlyuchenko taking over in attack.

Defoe seized on a slip by Clarke Carlisle and forced Jensen to foil bravely off his line, but it was the home side who struck again at the other end on 72 minutes. Blake did the crucial work down the left flank, evading challenges to fizz low across goal to where Chris McCann was waiting to gleefully force home at the far post.

The aggregate lead was whittled down to 4-3. This should have been extended on 77 minutes when Bale sped down the left and dispatched a low centre into the feet of Pavlyuchenko in front of goal. The Russian striker could not keep his first time shot down and Turf Moor remained in raptures.

Michael Dawson made a vital interception from a Jay Rodriguez cross before Defoe was denied in front of the travelling thousands seconds later.

Burnley secured a fortunate third with just over two minutes remaining when a Blake free-kick was not gathered by Alnwick and Rodriguez was on hand knock in the loose ball.

A Pavlyuchenko effort from distance was deflected wide in the final minute, so extra time it was - a prospect that appeared highly unlikely just over two weeks ago.

We now had to score, Burnley needed to simply see it out without conceding.

Adel Taarabt was given the chance to make an impression, with Chris Gunter withdrawn and Zokora moved to right-back.

Bale worked Jensen in the opening moments of the second period of extra time after the first passed without major incident.

Three minutes from time Pavlyuchenko saved the night.

Assou-Ekotto squared the ball inside where the Russian was in place to ping past Jensen to huge relief.

Jermain Defoe then inflicted punishment that Burnley did not deserve when he slipped a further goal past Jensen to reduce the score on the night to 3-2.