Tottenham Hotspur resisted a late fight back from Middlesbrough to win their FA Cup Third Round replay 2-1 at home on Tuesday evening.
A horrendous mistake from Tomás Mejías saw Giovani Lo Celso open the scoring in just the second minute of the match. Erik Lamela made it two with just a quarter of an hour gone with a brilliant solo strike. Boro substitute George Saville then got his side back into the tie with just seven minutes remaining as he picked out the bottom corner from the edge of the area but it was all too little too late as Spurs booked their place in the next round.
Mistake sees Tottenham take early lead
With Spurs coming into the match on a run of only one win in their last six matches, there really was pressure on the hosts to put in a positive performance. They were given an absolute gift early on as Mejías’ sloppy pass was picked off by Lo Celso. The Argentine had plenty of room to then run at the Middlesbrough defence and slot the ball into the bottom corner.
Their own moment of slackness then almost afforded the Championship side an equaliser as Davinson Sanchez’s pass was intercepted by Djed Spence. He then played in Lukas Nmecha, with the Manchester City forward dummying well only to see his shot parried by Paulo Gazzaniga.
Lamela dazzles to double advantage
That save would prove to be crucial for Jose Mourinho’s men as Lamela doubled the lead. He spun well in midfield, evaded a couple of poor Middlesbrough challenges before slotting the ball confidently into the far corner of the net with the outside of his left boot.
Tottenham were a class above their second tier opponents and had chances to extend their lead through Lamela, Eric Dier, Ryan Sessegnon and Japhet Tanganga but only the young winger could threaten the Middlesbrough goalkeeper.
Paddy McNair almost pulled one back for Jonathan Woodgate’s men before half-time as he latched onto Jonny Howson’s terrific through-ball but lifted his shot high over the crossbar. Fortunately, the offside flag spared his blushes.
Saville gives Boro hope
Spurs cruised throughout the remainder of the game, playing the majority of the second-half in just second gear. They almost got a third towards the end of the match as Christian Eriksen’s shot went through a crowd but Mejias reacted very well to paw the ball away.
Middlesbrough did at least make the clash interesting with just a few minutes remaining as substitute Saville picked up the ball on the edge of the Tottenham area and nonchalantly rolled his shot into the bottom corner.
They pushed extremely hard to find their equaliser but weren’t quite able to complete what would be a famous turnaround as Jose Mourinho’s men edged through.
Following a first-half in which they were dominant, Spurs deserved their victory. Middlesbrough did show some fight and spirit after the break, especially after they halved the deficit through Saville. However, it was not quite enough for the Championship side to find a route back into the match as Spurs set up a Fourth Round tie against Southampton.
Tottenham Hotspur: Gazzaniga (7); Sessegnon (7), Vertonghen (7), Sanchez (6), Tanganga (7); Winks (6), Dier (6) (Alli (N/A), 86′); Lo Celso (7), Eriksen (6), Lamela (7); Moura (6) (Son (6), 61′).
Middlesbrough: Mejías (6); Johnson (6), Fry (6), McNair (6), Howson (7), Spence (7) (Tavernier (6), 74′); Liddle (6) (Saville (7), 57′), Clayton (5), Wing (6); Fletcher (5), Nmecha (6) (Gestede (N/A), 78′).
Goals: Lo Celso (2′), Lamela (16′), Saville (83′)
Referee: Craig Pawson
Yellow Cards: N/A
Red Cards: N/A
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