Tottenham 2 Middlesbrough 1: Spurs survive late scare to reach FA Cup fourth round after Lo Celso and Lamela goals

By | 14th January 2020

SO Spurs are on their way to Wembley courtesy of an Argentinian duo.

And while it might be far too early to anoint Giovani Lo Celso and Erik Lamela as the new Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa, at least this was a first Tottenham win in five attempts after a tumultuous start to the 2020s.

PA:Press Association

Erik Lamela doubled Spurs’ lead after just 15 minutes[/caption]

PA:Press Association

Giovani Lo Celso scored only his second Tottenham goal to open the scoring after two minutes[/caption]

A fourth-round return to in-form Southampton – where Harry Kane was injured in a nightmarish defeat on New Year’s Day – means that Jose Mourinho cannot yet go too trembly at the knees about the prospect of a big day out in May.

Yet the Spurs boss will be desperate to announce himself in north London by ending his club’s 12-year trophy drought at the earliest opportunity.

And amid all the moaning and agitating about the lopsided squad he has inherited, the vast majority of Spurs fans will be delighted to see a manager taking the FA Cup seriously.

Despite his close links to Ossie and Ricky, Mauricio Pochettino didn’t always appreciate the nostalgic fondness this club holds towards the Cup – although they did reach two semi-finals under their old boss.

Here in a potentially tricky third-round replay against in-form Middlesbrough, Mourinho sent out a strong, if not full-strength side.

And they as good as sealed victory within 15 minutes of the first FA Cup tie to be staged here at Levy’s opulent new footballing theme park.

Lo Celso, the loanee from Real Betis, netted for the first time at White Hart Lane after less than two minutes, thanks to a blunder from Boro keeper Tomas Mejias.

And his fellow Argentinian Lamela netted an individualistic second which would have had Villa himself nodding approval to give Mourinho the cushion he craved.

This was a good night for youngsters Ryan Sessegnon and Japhet Tanganga, as well for the impressive Lamela.

But it will only count for anything if Spurs head all the way to Wembley in the spring.

Spurs haven’t won a trophy for so long that Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate was the bloke who scored the goal which secured it – under Juande Ramos in the 2008 League Cup Final.

News Group Newspapers Ltd

Lo Celso slotted home with his left foot to stun the visitors early on[/caption]

News Group Newspapers Ltd

Lamela added the second just 13 minutes later[/caption]

And Mourinho’s currency is silverware. He loves a domestic cup competition more than most managers, although he will also try to argue that he had very little option but to send out many of his A-listers.

As we know, the transfer-window mindgames have been well and truly ramped up on chairman Levy.

Mourinho had let slip in his pre-match press conference that Kane might not play again for Spurs this season.

This rumour had been doing the rounds last week, had been denied by Tottenham’s PR department, yet here was the crafty old Portuguese giving it credence after all.

If Spurs get linked with a young Italian striker called Machiavelli in the coming days, do not be surprised.

Boro, unbeaten in five Championship games, had taken the lead in the original fixture at the Riverside ten days ago but the belief that they would make this an awkward night for Mourinho was punctured in 115 seconds, thanks to the hapless Mejias.

The Spaniard – under pressure from Ryan Sessegnon – attempted to find Marvin Johnson with a pass which was swiftly intercepted by Lo Celso, who casually rolled into the net.

Spurs keeper Paulo Gazzaniga was forced into one smart save to prevent an equaliser, though.

Lukas Nmecha twisted Eric Dier painfully but saw his shot pushed away by a plunging Gazzaniga.

News Group Newspapers Ltd

Lamela also used his left to slot past Tomás Mejías[/caption]


George Saville struck a late consolation for Middlesbrough[/caption]


But it was too little too late for the Teesiders[/caption]

Soon after, Lamela scored his peach, picking the pocket of Jonny Howson as the Boro skipper decided to indulge in a party trick close to his own penalty area.

Lamela then beat two defenders with speed and deftness before he beat Mejias saucily with the outside of his left boot.

The Argetinian love-in took a bit of a breather when Lo Celso – who had been impressive as a sub in Saturday’s narrow defeat by Liverpool – produced an outrageous spot of cheating in a vain attempt to win a penalty.

It would be wrong to describe it as ‘simulation’ unless Lo Celso had intended to simulate the sight of a man being shot in the chest at close range by machine-gun fire.

“You’re just a soft southern b*****d” yelled the Boro supporters. And to be fair to them, Lo Celso does share his native land with a decent number of penguins.

Lucas Moura exchanged passes with Lamela on a rapid Spurs breakaway,but the Brazilian dragged his shot just wide.

Woodgate and his assistant Robbie Keane, a pair of former Spurs favourites, could not have been too impressed with the way their side had struggled to compete during the first half.

And Boro did start the second half with a greater sense of purpose, Lewis Wing’s free-kick soon asking a full-stretch save from Gazzaniga.

Later on, sub George Saville hammered a long-ranger on to the roof of the net.

A deflected Christian Eriksen shot forced Mejias into one excellent save but, for the most part, Spurs seemed to think that they had done enough.

It was Saville who shook them out of their complacency on 83 minutes when he teased Tanganga and beat Gazzaniga with a low drive which the Spurs keeper should have saved.

There were a few nerves for the Spurs faithful – and it is rarely easy for them – but the Argentinian connection had done enough, just like the good old days.

AP:Associated Press

Jose Mourinho took one step closer to his first Spurs trophy[/caption]


Boro boss Jonathan Woodgate cut a frustrated figure back at his old club[/caption]

This post written by William Pugh originally appeared on Football news - transfers, fixtures, scores, pictures | The Sun. Read the full post here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *