Spurs boss Pochettino praises ‘fantastic’ Lamela after FA Cup win
After scare in south Wales, Tottenham book 5th-round trip to Rochdale after easing past Newport County at Wembley
07 February, 2018 — By Dan Carrier
FA Cup, Fourth Round Replay
SPURS 2 (Butler, 26 OG, Lamela 34), NEWPORT COUNTY 0
SPURS booked a 5th-round trip to Rochdale in the FA Cup tonight (Wednesday) after they saw off Newport County in a game that, after taking a slightly fortuitous lead midway through the first half, they never looked like losing.
Newport had given Spurs an almighty scare at their Rodney Parade home a fortnight ago when it took a late Harry Kane equaliser to bring the Welsh team to Wembley, and manager Michael Flynn’s charges started with the same aggression that unsettled their Premier League opponents.
But, despite their motivation, Newport’s limitations were soon exposed on the Wembley turf and manager Mauricio Pochettino praised his players for how they set about tackling the challenge in front of them.
He said: “We are in the next stage, and that is the most important thing. We were professional and the job is done.”
Handing rare starts to Juan Foyth and Fernando Llorente while giving game time to those easing back from injuries in the shape of Toby Alderweireld, Danny Rose, Harry Winks and Erik Lamela, he was pleased with how those who are not regulars contributed.
Pochettino said: “It can be tough to play because the team is doing well, and this was an opportunity for different players to get games.”
He was particularly pleased with Lamela’s man-of-the-match performance, adding: “If you are an offensive player, it is important to fill the net. Lamela had more than one year out. It is never easy to come back but he showed he loves football and loves to train. His mentality is fantastic and he will improve. He is more mature – you learn a lot in tough moments.”
Spurs took time to settle, with Newport buzzing from the experience and finding an extra yard as if the giant Wembley arch was inspiring them. But for all their huff and puff, they didn’t quite have the required quality to capitalise on a tepid Tottenham start.
It took Spurs 20 minutes to find their feet. Heung-Min Son shot over and then Danny Rose slammed an effort into the side-netting, but the opening period was a case of misplaced passes, hurried tackles and a sense that Spurs did not really fancy a fight.
Then, without it looking likely, Spurs took the lead on 26 minutes. Llorente did well to hold the ball up under pressure, spotted Moussa Sissoko ghosting into space and the midfielder’s first-time cross took a big deflection off County full-back Dan Butler to spin home.
It settled Tottenham, and on 34 minutes they doubled their lead. This time, Son wriggled forward and spotted Lamela. A simple pass into his path allowed the Argentine to gently waft the ball past the despairing Joe Day in the County goal and register his first strike in 16 long months.
Then it was all Spurs as the confidence drained from the Welsh side and the quality began to tell.
The second half was played at a training ground pace as Newport struggled. The Wembley pitch seemed to grow in size for the League Two side as the minutes added up and they resorted to hopeful, long balls that caused no issues for Foyth or Alderweireld.
Llorente had a couple of half-chances – he smashed a volley wide with the goal gaping – while substitute Dele Alli struck the bar with just the keeper to beat.
The result was, despite Newport’s bravery and bad luck in the first game, never really in doubt after the first goal went in.
Now Pochettino’s team travel to Rochdale in two weeks’ time as Spurs seek to end what has been a 27-year wait to lift the FA Cup.
Spurs: Vorm, Rose (Walker-Peters, 85) Alderweireld, Son (Eriksen, 61) Lamela, Wanyama (Alli, 76) Sissoko, Llorente, Foyth, Aurier, Winks.
Subs not used: Gazzaniga, Trippier, Sanchez, Kane.
Newport County: Day, Pipe (McCoulsky, 66) Butler, Labadie, White (O’Brien, 76) Willmott, Amond, Nouble, Tozer (Dolan, 58) Bennett, Demetriou.
Subs not used: Bittner, Reid, Sheehan, Hayes.