FA Cup 4th Round Replay: Tottenham 3 – Manchester City 4

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
February 4th, 2004 • 10:48 pm

There must be something about Tottenham leading 3-0 at home at half-time… First there was the famous Premier League game against Manchester United a couple of seasons ago where Tottenham were indeed leading 3-0 at half-time and ended up losing 3-5. And now this…

But this is even more unbelievable. For one thing, Manchester United are a top team that has won numerous Premier League titles. And they still had their full squad of 11 players, including their top-scorer Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Manchester City, on the other hand, have not exactly been glowing this season. They had a decent start, but are in a big slump right now, with no Premier League win in something like 15 games. They are just above the relegation zone. And their star striker Nicolas Anelka was substituted 15 minutes after kick-off because of a groin injury. And they had one of their mid-fielders sent off just after the half-time whistle, in a somewhat bizarre incident. And they had an inexperienced third-choice goal keeper in goal, because their recent acquisition David James is not allowed to play for them in the FA Cup.

So they were 0-3 down, down to 10 men, without their star striker and top goal-scorer, away from home, with only one victory in their past 16 games… Talk about defying the odds.

The transformation after half-time was really quite remarkable, to the point that you really wonder what happened during half-time. All of a sudden, they were all over Tottenham, creating chance after chance, hitting inch-perfect passes, flowing forward, hitting the target… How they did it is a mystery. But they did it. They were maybe a tad fortunate on the second goal, which was a huge deflection, and on the third goal, which could have be ruled out for off-side — but you can’t really argue that the referee gave them preferential treatment, with the highly debatable sending off at half-time. (I thought the referee wasn’t even allowed to give a card, yellow or red, once the whistle had blown.)

Four different scorers. Some brilliant goals. Two magnificent saves by the rookie goal-keeper to prevent Tottenham from getting a fourth goal. And a last-gap winner in stoppage time when the teams were level at 3-3 and everyone was anticipating extra-time periods and possibly penalty kicks and a heart-breaking loss for unlucky Manchester City after they had fought so hard to get back into the contest.

It was really historic stuff.

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