Spurs 2 Middlesbrough 1: Saints Await After Boro Are Eased Aside
The scoreline was too close for comfort in the end but Spurs are through to the fourth round of this season’s FA Cup with a trip to Southampton the reward. Early goals from Giovani Lo Celso and Erik Lamela seemed to suggest a comfortable 90 minutes but George Saville’s late effort led to a nervous end.
There were chances to put the tie out of reach and there were some overall positives from the game as we move ahead to some important EPL fixtures.
It couldn’t have got off to a better start as Middlesbrough gifted us the opening goal. Inside two minutes, keeper Tomas Mejias was put under pressure to clear and could only scuff his kick to Lo Celso. The Argentine stayed calm as he slotted home and there was hope of a big, morale boosting win.
Boro were handed chances throughout and this was one of Paulo Gazzaniga’s better nights. The same can’t be said for Davinson Sanchez whose misplaced pass almost allowed Lukas Nmecha the chance to grab an equaliser.
Gazzaniga’s save kept us ahead and a couple of minutes later, Lamela pounced on indecision in the Middlesbrough defence and doubled the lead.
More chances came in the first period and this was in contrast to the second half where we didn’t create so well. Boro pulled that goal back on 83 minutes but overall, it was a deserved victory.
Speaking to BBC Sport after the game, manager Jose Mourinho said:
We knew the opponents were hard: They brought on Gestede and went direct and made problems and when it was 2-1 we knew it was going to be difficult.
We tried our best. The boys are doing their best. They dealt well with many set-piece situations. We did lots of things well, we conceded the goal, a bit frustrating, but more frustrating was that we did not score three, four or five.
Among the positives from the game was another solid and mature performance from Japhet Tanganga in defence. He was named as Man of the Match by the BBC commentary team and it’s hard not to get carried away with the 20 year old.
The two Argentines – Lamela and Lo Celso – also brought freshness to the midfield at times with crisp, one-touch passing and that was in stark contrast to some of our recent, pedestrian performances. Ryan Sessegnon also proved to be a threat on the left flank on occasions and Mourinho has some interesting selection questions for Watford on Saturday.
The arrival of Gedson Fernandes on loan will add to those questions as we enter an interesting period. Following that trip to Vicarage Road in the early Saturday kick off, we will host Norwich next Wednesday night before that fourth round tie away to Southampton on Saturday January 25th.
A narrow home win over a Championship side isn’t enough to get excited about but were there signs on Tuesday night of more positive times ahead?