Let’s take a look back at some of the main causes of discussion from yesterday evening’s Emirates FA Cup Fifth-Round Proper Replay between Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur and Keith Hill’s Rochdale at Wembley Stadium, as Spurs sailed to a place in the quarter-finals.
Llorente Nets First Hat-Trick In England
While the Lilywhites would need to wait until after half-time to do the damage they were backed to against the League One strugglers, when they finally did, it was a special half for one particular striker.
Fernando Llorente hasn’t enjoyed the smoothest of rides thus far in London since moving from Swansea City, his team’s opponents in the next round, last summer, mainly deputising from Harry Kane.
But, Tuesday evening can be counted as his coming of age as the Spaniard netted a memorable hat-trick, his first in English football having only managed two previous strikes in a Tottenham shirt before it.
And they all came within 15 minutes of the start of the second period, putting the game beyond the visitors with three neat finishes, the first of which arrived from a Lucas Moura’s through-ball, which he simply dinked over Josh Lillis between the sticks.
The second and third were a little more straightforward for Llorente, both of them coming in the form of simple close-range finishes, one from a Moura cross yet again and the other a header from a Son Heung-min delivery, he will be looking forward to facing his former club next.
VAR Steals The Show In The Wembley Snow
Despite the brilliance of the Spanish striker Llorente and other goal-scorers, in the wake of three notable first-half incidents involving the Video Assistant Referee, VAR was always going to make the headlines in the blizzard that was Wembley.
Graham Scott at Stockley Park was the man charged with operating the VAR for the evening and Referee Paul Tierney was forced to first use him within the first ten minutes of the affair.
Son broke on the right and saw his cross/shot fall the way of Eric Lamela after some Llorente tussling, finishing coolly, the hosts were convinced they had scored and even had the ball back at kick-off when Tierney disallowed it, citing a Llorente foul on VAR.
The system thwarted Pochettino’s men once more minutes later when Moura believed he was fouled in the penalty area by visiting defender Harrison McGahey, Tierney checked, but nothing was given.
Frustration turned to elation for the home side when VAR overturned a decision to give them a free-kick to a penalty, when Son stepped up, he was booked by Tierney and a free-kick given the opposite direction for stopping on his run-up, rocky waters for those wishing to showcase the use of VAR in English football.
Walker-Peters Enjoys Special Moment As Son Delivers Brace
Aside from the debate over the new technology and Son’s penalty debacle, it was still an evening to largely remember for the South Korean and so too his much younger teammate Kyle Walker-Peters.
Heading into the affair, Son was without a goal since the very start of January when he netted in a Premier League draw against West Ham United and duly ended that drought on 23 minutes.
Receiving the ball from Lamela, he danced into the box and picked out the far corner with an admirable effort, giving Lillis next to no chance, celebrations of relief more than anything for him.
Son was forced to wait another 57 minutes for the completion of his handy brace, a much simpler goal this time around, tapping into an empty net from point-blank range in the thick white stuff making it five.
And the cake was very much iced in added-time by an impressive finish from youngster Walker-Peters, who beat Lillis from inside the area after being played in by Dele Alli, his first professional strike from full-back and he will be hoping the first of many.
Steely Dale Gives Spurs Almighty Fright
For all of the home team’s dominance throughout the match, the role that the third-tier visitors, on their first trip to Wembley in just under ten years, had to play cannot be understated.
Much like in the first encounter between these two, when Hill’s men held the Premier League side to a 2-2 draw, they put up a gutsy fight and with their display, showed that the result could have been very different in the end.
Having seen the Lilywhites score once and have two disallowed, less than 120 seconds after the penalty incident, Dale were able to equalise and give their visiting supporters something to cheer about.
Stephen Humphrys was the man to come up with the goods, controlling an Andy Cannon ball forward very well and firing it low past Michel Vorm with a very neat finish indeed.
The strike was Humphrys’, on loan from Fulham, first of the campaign in any competition and the Greater Manchester side will be hoping that it will give them an encouraging boost as they fight for survival in England’s third division.
So, now that the matter of football’s oldest competition has been attended to for the next few weeks at least for Tottenham and another year for Rochdale, both side attention will now switch back to domestic league action, it’s now time to find to who they will be facing off with next.
There is little rest for Pochettino’s side in the next few days, they are straight back to it on Saturday afternoon, entertaining Huddersfield Town in the Premier League at Wembley, they are fourth in the table.
Whereas, Hill’s men also go straight back to a hectic schedule in League One, entertaining in-form Plymouth Argyle at Spotland, the situation is desperate for Dale as they are currently ten points adrift of safety in 24th.
Meanwhile, the North London outfit will have a little over three weeks until they travel to the Liberty Stadium to battle it out for the right to play at Wembley in the semi-finals of the FA Cup on Saturday 17 March at 12:15 PM, join us once again then to find out who progresses to the final four.