Spurs to focus on a top 4 EPL finish after FA Cup defeat to Middlesbrough

After a couple of really impressive performances against Man City and Leeds in the league, Tottenham missed out on FA Cup progression after losing to Middlesbrough 1-0 in the fifth round of the domestic competition.

Neither team could find the net during the full ninety minutes as the game went to extra time. 19-year-old Josh Coburn came off the bench and drilled home a winner past World Cup winner Hugo Lloris. Safe to say it was a late night on the toon for that young chap.

A shock result on the road for Spurs

There is no doubt that this was a shock result. Although Middlesbrough dispatched Man Utd to advance through to the fifth round and have flown up the table since Chris Wilder’s appointment, this was a game Spurs should have buried. And early.

Whenever Tottenham are involved in cup ties such as this, we are all painfully reminded that the last time the club won any silverware was in 2008. At least now, all focus and all efforts can be primarily geared towards achieving that coveted 4th place finish through a late surge of success and passion among the current crop of players.

Tottenham absolutely started the livelier side and were so threatening on the flanks. Ryan Sessegnon put in a notable performance during the first half, as was the case with Matt Doherty on the other flank. In fact, Doherty had an incredible chance to score after flicking the ball over the Boro keeper who was miles out of his box. Doherty was staring down an open goal but the angle was against the Irishman and his effort did not hit its target.

The home side played in front of a full capacity crowd and they most certainly grew into the game. In the second half, the effort levels between the teams became apparent, with the home side invigorated by their boisterous supporters. Boro could well have taken the lead 55 minutes in after Matt Crooks was offered a free header from a corner. He definitely should have scored.

Spurs never seemed out of the game. Eric Dier tested the keeper from an excellent free kick. Kulusevski looked threatening as Conte tinkered with the formation during the latter minutes in the second half. Either side could have got that game-splitting goal in normal time with just an inkling of fortune on their side. But it has been the same story with Spurs all season long. What could have been if?

Extra time split the two teams

Once the extra time started the momentum began to swing firmly with Boro. The first extra-time period was peppered with efforts from McNair, Tavernier and other Boro players who were struggling to get past Hugo Lloris. Their knocks kept coming and eventually the door caved in. 107 minutes AET and Coburn cast himself as a Boro hero on a cold Tuesday night up north.

Spurs pushed for an equaliser but not hard enough. It’s now time to focus on the league. Fans can be happy with the performances of Kulusevski and to a certain extent Kane again. They may form another defence-shattering partnership as the Lilywhites push for a successful end to the 2021/2022 Premier League campaign.

The Spurs Starting XI

H Lloris ©
C Romero
E Dier
B Davies
M Doherty
P Højbjerg
H Winks
R Sessegnon
D Kulusevski
H Son
H Kane

The manager’s thoughts

After the match, Antonio Conte claimed that,

“We lost a good chance to go to the next round and play in the quarter-finals of an important competition like the FA Cup. There is for sure disappointment for the final result. I think this type of game, especially when you play away, against a team that play in the [Championship] you have to know the difficulty.

“For this reason, we had to try to kill – in a sporting way – the opponent quickly. We have had the chances to score but we didn’t take it. And then you give confidence to your opponent and you risk [defeat]. At the end, Middlesbrough won the game and deserved to go to the next round.”

What’s next for Tottenham Hotspur

After four games on the road, Tottenham Hotspur will host Everton at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Monday Night Football at 20:00 KO on the 7 March. Dele Alli will return to try and defeat his former team. Everton are currently 17th and on terrible form. Spurs should be looking to claim all three points here.