Fernando Llorente scored a hat-trick in just his second start of the season as Spurs crushed Tranmere 7-0 to ease into the fourth round of the FA Cup. It was a devastating display from the much changed Spurs team and Mauricio Pochettino will be thrilled with the ruthless nature of their performance against an opponent that had the potential to cause a cup upset.
Eight changes were made to the side but it was still a strong Spurs lineup containing Dele Alli and Heung-min Son and it was Son who should have put Spurs ahead early on only to be denied by the feet of Tranmere goalkeeper Scott Davies.
It was another one of the changes to the Spurs side, Serge Aurier, who opened the scoring for the Lilywhites. The Ivorian stole the ball off Tranmere striker James Norwood, who failed to hold it up, before lashing a strike that deflected off Emmanuel Monthe which then nestled in the top corner.
That was the only goal of the first half, a half which Spurs had been the stronger team but only had that solitary strike to show for it. A ruthless second half display was to follow from Pochettino’s team.
A magnificent seven.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) January 5, 2019
Fernando Llorente Scores FA Cup Hat-trick
Within three minutes of the second half, Spurs had doubled their advantage. Son went past his man on the right before getting to the by-line and cutting the ball back into the six yard area. Fernando Llorente was in the right place at the right time to pick up his first of the evening from ten yards out.
That goal opened the floodgates at Prenton Park as soon after Serge Aurier picked up his second of the encounter. It came after brilliant work from Son, who took two Tranmere defenders out of the game with his first touch, which also freed up the space for him to pass to the overlapping Aurier. His shot was heading in before Mark Ellis bundled it over the line, but counted as Aurier’s second and Spurs’ third to put the tie out of the reach of League Two Tranmere.
Soon after, Spurs got their third in nine minutes and it was a deserved goal for Son who had set up the previous two. The South Korean acquired the ball inside his own half before driving at the Tranmere backline. The defenders kept backing off him, so Son feinted onto his left foot before rolling the ball into the opposite corner. It was a simple goal made to look easy by Son and he continued his fantastic goalscoring form for Spurs.
There was still time for more and Llorente was on his way to his hat-trick after a brilliant pass from Oliver Skipp, making his first appearance in the FA Cup, pierced the Tranmere defence. Llorente rounded the goalkeeper and passed into an empty net for his second and with twenty minutes remaining, Spurs were expected to take their foot off the gas however they would not let up.
It was just one minute later when Llorente got his third and once again it required the simplest of finishes. All the good work was done down the left by Lucas Moura, who cut inside and put in a low cross. Llorente turned the ball home with the outside of his foot and went on to celebrate in front of the travelling Spurs fans who had made the trip up to Birkenhead.
Spurs had time earlier in the match to give first team debuts to academy graduates George Marsh and Timothy Eyoma and Mauricio Pochettino also brought on Harry Kane for what he described as a show of respect to the opponents and fans of Tranmere. Kane got his obligatory goal soon after coming on, latching onto a through ball from Dele Alli to lob Davies and complete the scoring for Spurs.
It was a masterful FA Cup performance at a packed out Prenton Park under the lights. Given the potential for an FA Cup upset or a replay, Pochettino will have been delighted with the ruthlessness of his players. Llorente also matched his achievement from last season after scoring a hat-trick in the FA Cup against Rochdale at Wembley. He showed that he could be a worthy back up to Kane for the remainder of the season, despite being linked with a move away from the club.
Tranmere v Spurs FA Cup Teams
What the Managers Said
Spurs Manager Mauricio Pochettino
“Yes I am so happy. Always I never expect more than the attitude from the young players. They have the quality we believe but you cannot put too much pressure on them. Today they were very good, Skippy was fantastic. Of course Kyle Walker-Peters, Foyth, they are so young. I am so happy with the evolution of them.” (football.london)
On Bringing on Harry Kane
“It was respect, respect the people, respect the opponent. They’re not going to have many chances to see Harry Kane play here in a competition like the FA Cup. I think it was a great atmosphere. For different reasons I decide to make a change and put Kane on the pitch but one of them is that It’s important to show respect to the people here so they could see Harry Kane, who is an icon in English football. It is difficult in that division to see it. It was important to see him in action.” (football.london)
Tranmere Manager Micky Mellon
“It was tough, the scoreline says that. We got punished for moments of where a wee bit of quality was needed against a very good Spurs side, but we’ve done well to get to this stage of the competition. To play against a team like Tottenham was fantastic for the club but we’ll move ahead and it’s all about the league now.
“Tottenham were brilliant. Every mistake we made, they took their opportunity. They were great with the football, with getting back, and their attitude coming here was fantastic. They showed what wonderful footballers they are. About 10 of our lads played for us in the National League last year so for them to be involved in this occasion will do them the world of good. Now we have to move ahead and learn the lessons from it.” (BBC Sport)
Tranmere v Spurs FA Cup Man of the Match
Although Fernando Llorente scored a hat-trick, the best player on the pitch was Heung-min Son. He always looked a threat going forward and the Tranmere defenders simply could not contain him. The South Korean has seven goals and five assists in his last six matches in all competitions for Spurs and will be sorely missed when he goes to represent his country at the Asian Cup later this month.
⚽ 7 goals
🅰️ 5 assists
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) January 5, 2019
What’s Up Next for Spurs?
Spurs are back in action on Tuesday as they host Chelsea in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final at Wembley. They then have another massive match at Wembley on Sunday, when they host in-form Manchester United who are still aiming to make the top four this season.
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