Monday, September 19, 2011

Tottenham's Joy of Winning the Cup 4 (2008)

Tottenham's last Cup winning performance in 2008 came in unusual circumstances as Martin Jol was replaced as manager by Juande Ramos in late October after his team had reached the 4th Round of the Carling Cup which was Ramos' first game in charge.  Victories over Arsenal and Chelsea made it a very special Cup campaign. 

2008 Carling Cup Final
Tottenham Hotspur 2 Chelsea 1 (aet)

Woodgate's Header Wins Cup for Spurs 
Woodgate Celebrates Win
Tottenham recorded their fourth success in the League Cup (Carling Cup) in a season that saw them appoint a new manager in late October and with new players who had only joined the club during the January transfer window.  Victories over 'top-4' London rivals in the semi-finals and Final helped to create a positive feel at the club that Spurs had at last started to close the gap on the the clubs at the head of the Premier League.  It was their first trophy since winning the Worthington Cup in 1999 and fans were over-joyed at the opportunity of another trip to Wembley and another European 'Tour'. 

Road to Wembley:
3rd Round v Middlesbrough (h) Won 2 - 0 Bale, Huddlestone
As they had qualified for the UEFA Cup by finishing 5th in the Premier League the previous season, Spurs were exempt from the competition until the 3rd Round.  It took two goals in three minutes late in the second half to see Spurs into the next round.  The introduction of Robbie Keane with twenty minutes remaining livened up Spurs' attacking options and within three minutes he had set up Gareth Bale for the first.  Three minutes later Tom Huddlestone scored the second and Spurs had overcome Middlesbrough's stubborn resistance.

4th Round: v Blackpool (h) Won 2 - 0 Keane, Chimbonda
The first match for Ramos as manager and an early goal from Keane set Spurs off against Blackpool, newly promoted to the Championship.  It required a hard-working performance from Tottenham and the second goal was scored by Pascal Chimbonda with just under an hour played.

5th Round: v Manchester City (a) Won 2 - 0 Defoe, Malbranque   
Jermain Defoe gave Spurs the lead on five minutes but Didier Zokora was dismissed after twenty minutes putting the team under added pressure.  However, they reorganised well and held City at bay and eight minutes from time Steed Malbranque secured victory.

Semi-Final (1st Leg): v Arsenal (a) Draw 1 - 1 Jenas
For the second successive season these two teams were drawn to meet at this stage of the competition.  Ramos decided to omit Paul Robinson for the first time, Radek Cerny taking his placeSpurs started well and went ahead through Jermaine Jenas eight minutes before the interval.  They should have added to their lead in the second half but with ten minutes left Arsenal levelled.

Semi-Final (2nd Leg): v Arsenal Won 5 - 1 Jenas, Keane, Lennon, Malbranque, Opp. o.g.
What a way to reach Wembley!  Jenas started Spurs off with a goal after three minutes.  The second came courtesy of an own goal from a corner after half an hour.  Arsenal were losing it.  Keane scored early in the second half, Lennon added the fourth on the hour.  With twenty minutes left Arsenal pulled one back (Adebayor) but Malbranque added extra salt in the wounds with the fifth in the final minute. 

Final: v Chelsea (Wembley) Won 2 - 1 (aet)  Berbatov (p), Woodgate 
Ramos restored Robinson to the team and new signings Alan Hutton and Jonathan Woodgate, replacing the injured Michael Dawson, made their first appearances in the competition.  Tottenham started with a purpose taking the game to Chelsea and surprising their opponents.  Slowly Chelsea came more into the game and following a number of free-kicks around the Spurs box, Didier Drogba gave Chelsea an undeserved lead late in the first half.  Spurs continued to create chances and on seventy minutes were awarded a penalty for a handling offence.  Dimitar Berbatov remained calm and slotted home.  Chances continued to be created but missed until in the fourth minute of extra-time Woodgate scored with a header from Jenas' free-kick.  It was then all hands to the board as Tottenham held out to win their first trophy in nine years.

Team: Robinson; Hutton, King, Woodgate, Chimbonda (Huddlestone); Lennon, Jenas, Zakora, Malbranque (Tainio); Berbatov, Keane (Kaboul) Subs: (unused): Cerny, Bent

Tottenham looked to this win under their new manager as a stepping stone to breaking into the top four having overcome both Chelsea and Arsenal to win the trophy.  However, it didn't work out like that - their form dropped off alarmingly after the Final and they finished in mid-table, in the summer they lost both of their Cup winning strikers, Berbatov to Manchester United and Keane to Liverpool and by the following October Ramos was gone and Harry Redknapp had been recruited to ensure the team avoided relegation after taking only 'two points from eight games'.


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