Middlesbrough 1 Spurs 1: All Square at the Riverside
Another painful 90 minutes has left Spurs needing a replay to progress in the FA Cup but it could have been a lot worse. Ashley Fletcher’s opener for Middlesbrough on Sunday afternoon threatened to put Tottenham out of the competition but the team responded and Lucas Moura’s equaliser keeps the tie alive.
The replay adds an unwanted extra game into a crowded fixture list but our one realistic hope for silverware is, for now, still on the table.
Spurs marginally edged the opening exchanges in terms of chances but Christian Eriksen could only find the keeper with his effort on seven minutes. On 22 minutes, it was over to Boro who were denied by a double save from Paulo Gazzaniga and with few chances following, the sides went in level at half time.
The match opened up on 50 minutes as Ashley Fletcher sprung the offside trap and slotted home to put the hosts in front. Manager Jose Mourinho responded by sending on Erik Lamela and Giovani Lo Celso and the pair livened up a lethargic Tottenham unit.
Just after the hour mark, Lucas drew us level, nodding in from Serge Aurier’s deep cross. Both teams had chances to win – Fletcher wasted a clear opportunity for Boro while Lamela and Lucas went close(ish) with long range efforts.
Speaking to BBC Sport after the game, Spurs manager Jose Mourinho said:
When we were losing 1-0 without strikers or the power to play inside their defensive line with lots of bodies and great soul, at that moment I had the feeling of ‘we are in trouble’.
But then everyone reacted. I reacted. The boys reacted. Giovani Lo Celso and Erik Lamela helped us a lot. If one team has to win it has to be us. We played very well in the last twenty minutes, we were just missing a second goal.
The replay has been pencilled in for the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Tuesday January 14th at 7.45pm. However, it’s been stated that the game could be moved subject to live television broadcasting so we’ll wait to see before making any travel arrangements.
Prior to the return, we have a rare, blank week before hosting table toppers Liverpool in this Saturday’s 5.30pm kick off. Doubtless we will start that replay as heavy odds on favourites but no-one will be taking Middlesbrough lightly in the wake of that uncomfortable afternoon in the north east.
With no match in midweek, it’s time to consider what the club will be looking to do in this transfer window. Clearly there are issues in certain areas of the pitch with the full back positions an obvious priority. At the same time, there are questions over existing personnel with Christian Eriksen heavily linked with a move to Serie A and Inter Milan.
It’s an interesting time to say the least but will this be the week that Mourinho makes his intentions clear in the transfer market?