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Leeds United 1 Tottenham Hotspur 3: match report
Published : 03 Feb 2010 21:49:47
Leeds United bowed out of the FA Cup on Wednesday night but not without reminding all those watching inside Elland Road, and viewers around the world, that they are a re-emerging force under Simon Grayson. The Cup run is over but the memory will remain of Leeds' living with the elite, of defeating Manchester United at Old Trafford and holding Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. And worrying them here. For all their possession and chances, Spurs were never completely comfortable. Jermain Defoe's hat-trick carried Harry Redknapp's side into a FA Cup fifth-round tie against Bolton Wanderers but there were some nervy moments. When Luciano Becchio equalised, Spurs had to show their Premier League finishing class with Defoe striking twice. 'We'll never play you again,'' chanted the Spurs fans. Don't be so sure. Arry's Orse had won the 1.40 at Lingfield but the 7.45 at Leeds was always going to be more of a challenge for Redknapp's main sporting interest. Making light of the 42-place gap, Leeds showed little reverence towards the Premier League visitors. Soon, though, Defoe and Peter Crouch began imposing themselves on a Leeds' defence missing Patrick Kisnorbo, Spurs took control for 20 minutes of a hugely entertaining first half, seizing a deserved lead through Defoe, who could have laid claim to ownership of the match-ball by the break. Until Becchio's dramatic intervention just before the interval, the best chances of the first half fell to Spurs, whose supporters were filing in late after negotiating the Cresta Run of the M1. Crouch, that trusty early-warning system for snow, created a chance for Defoe, chesting Vedran Corluka's right-wing cross into the path of his striking accomplice. Defoe's shot sped wide. Defoe was tormenting Richard Naylor and Lubomir Michalik. When the England international next ran through on goal, eluding Leeds centre-halves, Casper Ankergren froze, hesitating near the penalty spot rather than continuing his run out to narrow the angle. Not needing a second invitation, Defoe let fly but placed his shot too close to Ankergren, who shovelled it to safety. The Dane really impressed moments later, dropping smartly to his right to keep out a cross from Gareth Bale that had deflected goalwards off Leigh Bromby. Still Spurs pressed, still Defoe caught the eye. Racing on to a Jermaine Jenas ball, Defoe was denied only by a challenge from Michalik that needed to be perfect. And was. Hiding his frustration, Defoe seemed on a one-man mission to punish Leeds. With eight minutes of the half remaining, the lively David Bentley made another good run down the right, this time checking inside and lifting in the ball left-footed. Given too much space, Defoe controlled the ball before sending a left-footed half-volley looping slowly, almost apologetically, into Ankergren's net. It was not the most elegant entry to Defoe's goal collection but it drew a huge sigh of relief from the Spurs contingent. Leeds rallied. Their fans demanded and expected nothing less. Their manager, patrolling the dug-out, resembling a conductor in a tracksuit, seemed to be making every tackle, every run with his players. Leeds responded to the exhortations of their manager and their supporters. Michalik powered in a header that Gomes saved but the Brazilian had no chance when Leeds came calling just before the break. Robert Snodgrass' corner was cleared by Crouch but Leeds maintained the pressure. When Howson drilled the ball back in from right, Jermaine Beckford had his close-range effort stopped by Gomes. Spurs keeper was left horribly exposed by his defenders, who allowed Becchio to slide in at the far-post to equalise. As the Leeds faithful revelled in the sight of another Premier League side being troubled, at the confident football beginning to flow from the men in white, Tottenham players screamed in frustration and seethed with argument, surrounding Andre Marriner and insisting that Becchio and Beckford were offside. The referee waved away their protests which continued moments later at the break. Spurs coaching staff had to intervene to usher their angry players away. Redknapp clearly had a word at the break, and Spurs emerged looking far more businesslike. Crouch really should have restored Spurs lead but turned Kranjcar's pass wide. Bentley then glided through from midfield, threw in a couple of step-overs to confuse Leeds defenders before bringing a marvellous tip-over save from Ankergren. Spurs pressure soon paid off. After Defoe had seen an effort ruled out for offside, the England poacher struck his second of a frosty night after 72 minutes. Redknapp and Joe Jordan had been urging their players to keep a high tempo, to keep the ball moving quicker and a sudden break brought rich reward. Jenas swept the ball down the right for Bentley to chase. Bentley, showing good form in recent weeks, confirmed his revived mood with a strong low cross, fired in first-time. The speed of the attack totally caught Leeds defence out. As Ankergen stepped from his line, Defoe pounced, ramming Bentley's cross into the back of the Leeds net. Leeds' dream completely died when Defoe broke away deep into injury time, rounding Ankergren to score.