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On our way to Wembley!

Posted on 24 March 2010  - 12:00

Inspired substitutions from Harry Redknapp turned our FA Cup Quarter-Final replay with Fulham on its head to send us through to the Wembley semis.

On our way to Wembley!

Inspired substitutions from Harry Redknapp turned our FA Cup Quarter-Final replay with Fulham on its head to send us through to the Wembley semis.

Trailing 1-0 at the break, David Bentley was introduced and equalised with his first touch before Roman Pavlyuchenko also came off the bench to score one of the goals of the season to send us on our way.

In a 20 minute spell at the start of the second half, our astonishing comeback was completed when the impressive Eidur Gudjohnsen made it two goals in as many games to settle the tie.

The Icelandic forward was one of two changes from the side that won at Stoke in the league on Saturday.

He started where he finished that game, up-front alongside Peter Crouch, with Pavlyuchenko only just fit enough to make the bench having picked up a hamstring injury at the Britannia Stadium.

Wilson Palacios also returned to the midfield with Younes Kaboul cup-tied.

Bentley was making his return to fitness after a groin injury that had kept him out for the last month, but both he and Tom Huddlestone, also fit after a three-game absence, started on the bench.

There was an electric Cup tie atmosphere in the stadium at kick-off, and the end-to-end start to the game was fitting.

Palacios hit a shot not far wide and Simon Davies forced Heurelho Gomes into a smart save at the other end in the first 10 minutes.

But almost immediately after Luka Modric had threatened in the Fulham box, the visitors broke down the other end to open the scoring on 18 minutes.

Damien Duff was afforded the space to run at the heart of our defence and play in Bobby Zamora for a cool finish inside the far post.

Certainly no sign of any fatigue from their recent European exploits and the worst possible start for us.

Our response was positive, however, with Gudjohnsen, fresh from opening his goalscoring account for Spurs at Stoke, pulling the strings up front.

He tested Mark Schwarzer with a smart back-heel in a congested penalty area, which the Aussie keeper did well to stop, while Modric should have done better with a shot he sliced wide from the edge of the box around the half hour mark.

Nonetheless, something had to change...and change it certainly did - mainly due to a managerial masterstroke from Redknapp.

At the break, off came Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Niko Kranjcar, on came Bentley and Huddlestone, Bale back to left-back, Modric to the left wing, Huddlestone into the centre of midfield and Bentley on the right.

The latter's impact was instant. With his first touch, he swung in a trademark free-kick from the left that evaded everyone in the box and drifted in at the far post.

Game on!

But not before Redknapp's best laid plans took another blow when Vedran Corluka limped off on 53 minutes.

Defensive options were limited on the bench - but eyebrows were certainly raised when it was the most attack-minded of the remaining five, Pavlyuchenko, who stripped off for action.

But who would have ever doubted the man they call ‘Harry Houdini'!

Gudjohnsen simply dropped back to midfield with Palacios replacing Corluka at right-back - a position he looked more than at ease in.

This left ‘Super Pav' to do what he does best - and that he certainly did on the hour mark.

Bentley stood a high ball up to the back post and, when it dropped, there was the Russian with a Van Basten-esque volley that crashed into the back of the net to make it nine goals in eight games for man whose season has turned around as much as this game did.

The crowd were jubilant and what can only be described as a makeshift XI were matching their enthusiasm with some great football.

Crouch, Bale and Modric all came close in a frantic spell before a third goal that was as mesmerising as it was forceful on 66 minutes.

A string of neat and quick passes ending with Modric sliding Gudjohnsen in to fleet-footedly skip around Schwarzer and get in ahead of Aaron Hughes to bundle home.

Spurs were on their way to Wembley!

Of course, there was still 24 minutes to go at this point and Fulham still had much to offer with the likes of Clint Dempsey and Stefano Okaka being introduced.

But one could sense it was not to be their night on 71 minutes when Zamora knocked down for Duff to hit a stinging shot that would have beaten most goalkeepers, only for Gomes to show the smartest reactions in beating it away.

Fulham were camped in our half for the last 20 minutes but to no avail, although in his haste to retain the two-goal cushion, Sebastien Bassong also limped off late on.

Victory may have come at a cost, therefore, ahead of Saturday's Premier League visit of Portsmouth - but we'll worry about that then!

For now, let us bask in one of the great FA Cup nights at the Lane with the South Coast club awaiting us in the semi-final at Wembley.


Spurs (4-4-2): Gomes; Corluka (Pavlyuchenko, 53), Dawson, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto (Huddlestone, 46); Kranjcar (Bentley, 46), Palacios, Modric, Bale; Gudjohnsen, Crouch
Subs not used: Alnwick, Livermore, Rose, Townsend

Fulham (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Kelly (Dempsey, 70), Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky; Duff, Etuhu, Murphy, Davies; Gera, Zamora (Okaka, 78)
Subs not used: Zuberbuhler, Baird, Smalling, Greening, Riise