Spurs beaten by Man United as semi-final heartbreak goes on
United come from behind after Dele Alli opened the scoring at Wembley - result means Spurs have now lost the last eight FA Cup semi-finals they have competed for
21 April, 2018 — By Dan Carrier at Wembley
FA Cup Semi-Final
SPURS 1 (Alli 10)
MANCHESTER UNITED 2 (Sanchez 23, Herrera 61)
IT is a feeling Spurs fans know well – another semi-final defeat, another could-have-been moment.
But, instead of planning a May trip to Wembley and a new Chas and Dave tune to enjoy, Mauricio Pochettino’s side’s 1-2 defeat to Manchester United this afternoon means Spurs have lost the last eight FA Cup semi-finals they have competed for.
Last year Tottenham were done over by Chelsea’s sucker punches in a semi-final they dominated but still contrived to lose, and this time round it was Manchester United’s turn to dole out the beats on the break.
As with last year, Spurs had plenty of the ball and carved some decent chances, but, when push came to shove, their rivals found something else in front of goal. It means Jose Mourinho’s charges will be getting measured up for their suits and the Spurs tailor can put his order book away for another year.
Speaking afterwards, Pochettino said the season was not over and he would now lift his players to ensure they enjoy Champions League football at the new White Hart Lane next year.
He said: “We are in a process to get here, to compete in this competition, the Premier League and the Champions League. We feel we are close. We are working to reach the level where we compete, and then win. In the past four years we have been building a good team and trying to create a winning mentality. We will keep going.”
And he said he felt his side had done well in the game and the margin between defeat and victory was small.
He added: “We dominated the first half and I felt 1-1 was unfair, but the second half was more competitive and more even. I am disappointed and it is very frustrating, but now it is time to finish the season the best way we can.
“We have four games left to make sure we play in the Champions League – and, if we can do that, it will mean we have had a successful season.”
As Pochettino pointed out, it did look at first like the FA Cup hoodoo that has hung over Spurs for more than a quarter-of-a-century was about to be exorcised.
Bright and purposeful at the start, they took the lead on 10 minutes and United looked shaky in possession and ragged without the ball.
Christian Erisken dashed free down the right to chase a pass from Davinson Sanchez. His cross was hit low and with pace for the onrushing Dele Alli to meet and thump home joyfully past David De Gea.
Five minutes later Harry Kane nearly increased the advantage when Alli found Heung-Min Son and his drifted cross was met by Kane at the back post.
Son and Eriksen were causing United issues in a dominant opening 20 minutes but the adage that when you are top, you have to make it count never rang truer.
United got back on level terms on 23 minutes against the run of play – and Spurs were their own worst enemies. Michel Vorm conceded a cheap throw-in when he chipped a pass that was too clever for its own good out of play, and then, as Tottenham tried to recover the ball, they gave away a cheap free-kick.
Finally, once that was dealt with, Mousa Dembele lost possession by trying to twist his way out of trouble when a hoof was all that was needed. Alexis Sanchez met Paul Pogba’s cross and directed his header home.
As the half ticked down, the excellent Eric Dier drove a shot against the post and then Alli got in behind, was forced wide and tried an improvised chip that hit the roof of the net.
The second period saw Spurs enjoy most of the possession early on and Kane looked like he was going to score when played in by Eriksen – only for Chris Smalling to get in a crucial block.
Then came what would prove to be the winner on 61 minutes when Ander Herrera ghosted in and finished neatly via a United break.
Spurs pushed, with Pochettino throwing on Lucas Moura for Ben Davies in the hope it would open things up, but United were well drilled in defence and well versed in the darker arts, doing all they could to time-waste and break up the play.
Eriksen went close with a trademark long-ranger, but Spurs lacked a cutting edge up front. Kane was heavy legged and his contribution suggests he hasn’t fully regained his verve after suffering ankle ligament damage earlier this year.
United saw out the clock and this bitter defeat for Pochettino suggests his side have might have run out of legs when they need them most.
The wait for the first trophy of the Pochettino era continues for another season.
Spurs: Vorm, Trippier, Vertonghen, Sanchez, Son (Lamela, 85) Kane, Dier, Dembele (Wanyama, 77) Alli, Eriksen, Davies (Moura, 67).
Subs: Lloris, Alderweireld, Sissoko, Aurier.
Manchester United: De Gea, Jones, Pogba, Sanchez, Lukaku, Smalling, Lingard (Rashford, 81) Young, Herrera, Valencia, (Darmian 88) Matic.
Subs: Pereira, Lindelof, Mata, Martial, Fellaini.