Tottenham 2-1 Middlesbrough: Spurs survive late scare to book FA Cup fourth-round spot

No Harry Kane, no problem.

Not when you’re facing a Middlesbrough side who are their own worst enemies.

Gio Lo Celso and Erik Lamela grabbed the early goals that set up a tough trip to in-form Southampton in the fourth round.

But they were aided by a defensive display that explained why Jonathan Woodgate’s side sit 16th in the Championship.

Neither Jose Mourinho nor the Spurs board will be under any illusions about the rebuilding job still needed. But this win kept FA Cup hopes alive in a troubled season.

You had to feel for Middlesbrough whose fans had travelled for up to five hours only to have their night wrecked after two minutes.



Lo Celso fired Tottenham in front

That’s how long it took for Jonathan Woodgate’s side to self-destruct. Only Tomas Mejias will know what he was up to when he tried to play the ball out to winger Martin Johnson with Lo Celso lurking.

Tottenham ’s Argentine midfielder pounced to rob Johnson and curl the ball low into the bottom corner.

Thirteen minutes later Middlesbrough had a mountain to climb. Erik Lamela caught skipper Jonny Howson in possession and shimmied into the box before flicking the ball beyond Mejias. Gone in 15 minutes.

Meijas once appeared for Mourinho at Real Madrid . A league game in 2010-2011. It was easy to see here why he didn’t retain the Special One’s confidence.

Maybe it was stage fright. Maybe, mentally, Woodgate’s side had convinced themselves their chance had gone having surrendered the lead in the original tie.

Either way, it was pretty clear quite quickly that Boro had blown it.



Lamela doubled Spurs’ advantage

Not that Mourinho’s side didn’t do their best to muck it up.

Paddy McNair, unmarked on the left side of the box, ballooned a fine chance over the bar when he should have at least hit the target to cap a wonderful run by Howson.

Ashley Fletcher headed narrowly wide from a free-kick just a minute before the break.

Both times the Spurs defence were AWOL. The need for some leadership back there must surely be addressed by Mourinho before this transfer window closes.

Up front, though, they were fine without Kane. Lucas Moura and Lo Celso unlocked the back door again but Lamela blew the chance created on 22 minutes.

Rising star Japhet Tanganga sent a diagonal effort narrowly wide six minutes later and Boro survived a VAR check when Lo Celso went down after colliding with Johnson. Quite right too.

Read More

Mirror Football’s Top Stories

In fact, Lo Celso did well not to be booked for his theatrics.

After the break Ryan Sessesgnon left grateful he’d strayed offside after his contender for miss of the season.

The former Fulham man side-footed over the bar from point-blank race after superb work from Tanganga to send the ball across the six-yard box.

Boro responded with a fine free-kick from Lewis Wing which left a few hearts in mouths and forced a diving save from Gazzaniga.

Substitute George Saville really did leave Spurs and their fans living on their nerves when he pulled one back with seven minutes to go.

From a long ball forward, the Irish midfielder struck low into the bottom corner from the edge of of the box. Sleepy keeper Paulo Gazzaniga reacted far too slowly. Mourinho will have grounds not to be pleased.

source.