Nothing was solved in North Yorkshire Sunday afternoon as Tottenham and Middlesboro played to a 1-1 draw in the third round of the FA Cup.
Spurs started out on the back foot as Boro pressed almost immediately, winning a couple of corners but not getting a solid shot out of it. Tottenham had the first good chance of the game in the 7th minute as Christian Eriksen came free about 15 yards from goal. His shot was saved by Tomas Meijas and eventually cleared by the defense. Son Heung-Min came back on the attack just a couple minutes later to get another shot off, also saved by Meijas.
Spurs controlled the flow of the match for the first twenty minutes but couldn’t unlock Boro’s defense. Boro won a free kick in the 21st minute after Harry Winks conceded a foul 30 yards out. The set piece was Boro’s best chance thus far as they had two cracks at a goal, both of them saved by Gazzaniga. Spurs had to work to get the ball cleared, but ultimately got it out of the attacking third with no damage done.
The match slowed down after those chances. Tottenham maintained most of the possession but their chances weren’t plentiful. Boro almost conceded an own goal in the 28th minute on a Serge Aurier cross and Ryan Sessegnon, after some nifty footwork in the 34th minute, skied a shot well over the crossbar after earning his space.
Boro started the second half quickly though Spurs were able to push back at first. The 50th minute brought the first goal of the match as a ball over the top to Ashley Fletcher put him one-on-one with Gazzaniga. The Argentine got a piece of the shot, but not enough to stop it as it bounced into the net to give the home side a one goal lead.
Mourinho made two subs five minutes after conceding, bringing on Erik Lamela and Giovani Lo Celso while pulling off Sessegnon and Winks. Eric Dier moved up from the back three into midfield as Spurs switched to the 4-2-3-1.
The switch paid off as Spurs looked more dangerous almost immediately. Dier earned a throw-in and fed Lo Celso, who made a marauding run of about 25 yards before playing a beautiful pass to Aurier. The Ivorian International played a great cross into the box and somehow found an unmarked Lucas Moura for an easy header into the net. A beautiful team goal all around to make the match 1-1.
Spurs almost surrendered an insanely dumb goal in the 70th minute after Rudy Gestede came on for Boro. Jan Vertonghen coughed up the ball on a hot pass and then slipped trying to get back to it. The ball was fed to Gestede almost immediately after for a one-time effort that was right at Gazzaniga, who made an easy save.
After that minor gaffe, Spurs calmed down and took control of the match again. Half-chances by Lamela and Lucas almost resulted in a go-ahead goal but Boro somehow survived going into the final ten minutes of the match. Lucas tried to end the match himself in the 82nd minute with a powerful knuckleball from 20 yards out, forcing a save. Another chance came in the 89th minute on the break as Lamela fed Aurier, who promptly skied the shot into the stands.
Both sides had to repel one last chance in stoppage as Boro had a free kick chance that led to nothing while Spurs couldn’t answer on the break to close it out.
Thoughts on the Match:
- Spurs controlled this match for huge portions but just couldn’t find the finishing touch to put this tie away.
- That first half was boring as hell. Possession is great but when so few chances are generated, it doesn’t mean much.
- The attack got better when Lo Celso and Lamela came on and Spurs moved out of the back three. GLC’s hockey assist to Aurier was great and the cross couldn’t have been better.
- We only got one or two replays of it, but it sure looked like Boro’s goal was offside.
- Find someone who loves you the way Coco loves sh*thousing. There’s no one better at it and I’m fully convinced he won’t be satisfied until he actually kills someone in a match.
- Lucas had a really weird match. He didn’t have much to roll with in the first half, and while he got the goal in the second half, his passing was definitely off. His dribbling got him into a couple of other good attacking positions, but it was a roller coaster for him. All in all, not bad though.
- A lot of players had very average matches today. I could probably write another article entirely about it, to be honest.
- The replay will be in two weeks at Tottenham Hotspur stadium. We’ll have the actual date and time as soon as the FA announce it.