Four goals in the space on 35 minutes saw Fulham through to the FA Cup fifth round as they overwhelmed ten man Spurs at Craven Cottage.
Fulham started well and Damien Duff linked up well with Clint Dempsey to put the American through with a dinked cross that really should have resulted in a shot on target. The same combination linked up again as Duff put in a testing corner for the home side, this time Dempsey did make contact with the ball, but his header could not find the target and it sailed wide of Heurelho Gomes’ goal.
Dempsey was again a threat on 11 minutes, and following his run into the box Alan Hutton lunged in on him and conceded a needless penalty. Former Spurs man Danny Murphy, who has an excellent record from the penalty spot, stepped up and made no mistake, blasting the ball high into the top left corner of Gomes’ goal.
Just two minutes later the same situation arose again for the home side. Dempsey again with the ball at his feet, after winning it from England defender Michael Dawson in the box, looked to shoot but was tugged back by Dawson who was looking to atone for his error just moments earlier. Instead of making up for the mistake he left his side with an uphill battle as he was shown a red card for his actions.
Murphy again stepped up and again fired home, this time into the opposite corner, to put Fulham two up inside 15 minutes.
Spurs lasted just nine more minutes before Gomes was again picking the ball out of his net. Having brought on William Gallas in the heart of defence in place of the Brazilian midfielder Sandro, who was sacrificed by manager Harry Rednapp, the away side looked at disarray as Andy Johnson flicked on a corner at the near post and Brede Hangeland was able to bundle the ball in at the far.
As Rednapp will have been preparing his half time team talk and thinking of a way to motivate his side into a fight back in the second half the task got all that much harder as, on the stroke of half time, Moussa Dembele was played through the centre of the pitch. The 23 year old Belgium international, who has already played 31 times for his country and signed for Fulham from AZ Alkmaar in the summer, strode past Sebastien Bassong before unleashing a low but powerful shot from the edge of the area that beat Gomes down to his right hand side.
The match was all but over in the minds of the Spurs’ players after the first ten minutes of the second half. Unable to make the early breakthrough that was required early in the second half to try and get themselves back in the match, their heads began to drop.
Changes made by Rednapp, with Rafael Van der Vaart and Jermaine Defoe coming off as Jermaine Jenas and Peter Crouch were brought on, further added to the match slowing down as the Tottenham manager looked to save the legs of some of his more important players for upcoming matches in the last 16 of the Champions League and further Premier League encounters.
As Fulham manager Mark Hughes also looked to rest players, with Murphy, Johnson, and Dembele coming off, it was clear that Fulham were happy with their first half effort. And although the match was all but over Fulham could still have made it five late on as Aaron Hughes headed against the crossbar from a corner.
Although the Spurs fans were a credit to their team, remaining in Craven Cottage until the final whistle and singing throughout as their side were crashing out of the cup before their eyes, it will be Hughes’ Fulham that will progress to the fifth round of the FA Cup where they will take on either Bolton or Wigan at the Cottage.
Match of the Weekend Contenders
Torquay United 0-1 Crawley Town: Crawley became the first non-league side to reach to fifth round of the FA Cup in 17 years as they overcame Torquay at the Plainmoor Stadium. Matt Tubbs put the Blue Square Bet Premier side ahead on 39 minutes after a smart finish past Scott Bevan, and despite two penalties being awarded to the away side, they could not capitalise. First Bevan saved from Tubbs as Chris Zebroski was sent off, before he pulled off another save, this time from the penalty of Craig McAllister. Crawley had Dean Howell sent off as both sides’ finished with ten men but Crawley saw out the match for another famous win.
Crawley will now face the champagne tie as Manchester United at Old Trafford in the next round.
Arsenal 2-1 Huddersfield Town: An open match at the Emirates Stadium saw Arsenal see off League One side Huddersfield. The home side could well have scored a bag full in the first half but were unable to take advantage until Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner was put through on goal and his wayward shot was deflected into his own net by Huddersfield captain Peter Clarke. Shortly before halftime Sebastien Squillaci was sent off for the home side and following this it was Huddersfield who looked to be on top in the second half. They were rewarded from a corner as Alan Lee headed them back onto level terms before a penalty to the home side was slotted away by substitute Cesc Fabregas.
Arsenal will travel to Leyton Orient in the fifth round after the League One side beat Swansea City 2-1 at the Liberty Stadium thanks to a last minute own goal by Alan Tate.