Moura rescues Tottenham at Middlesbrough, Chelsea progress
January 6, 2020 10:12 AM NPT
Soccer Football - FA Cup - Third Round - Middlesbrough v Tottenham Hotspur - Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough, Britain - January 5, 2020 Tottenham Hotspur's Lucas Moura in action with Middlesbrough's Jonny Howson REUTERS/Scott Heppell
MIDDLESBROUGH, Jan 6: Tottenham Hotspur needed a Lucas Moura equaliser to avoid an FA Cup third-round defeat at second tier Middlesbrough as Jose Mourinho’s stuttering side emerged with a 1-1 draw on Sunday.
The eight-times champions trailed to Ashley Fletcher’s fine finish just after the break but Moura’s header spared a Tottenham side who were without injured striker Harry Kane.
Tottenham dominated following Moura’s equaliser but Boro keeper Tomas Mejias, making his first start of the season, frustrated them with several saves as Boro earned a replay.
Chelsea made nine changes to their starting line-up but beat Championship promotion hopefuls Nottingham Forest 2-0 with goals from Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ross Barkley.
Former Manchester United and England striker Wayne Rooney helped Championship side Derby County spring a surprise with a 1-0 victory at Premier League Crystal Palace.
Top-flight Sheffield United were made to work hard by minor league outfit AFC Fylde, winning 2-1.
In an all-Championship clash, West Bromwich Albion and Charlton Athletic make a combined 20 changes with Albion winning 1-0 thanks to Kenneth Zohore’s goal.
For Tottenham fans travelling to Teesside, the sight of Jonathan Woodgate and Robbie Keane in the home technical was a poignant reminder of the club’s last trophy.
Boro boss Woodgate scored the winning goal for Tottenham against Chelsea in the 2008 League Cup final while Keane, now his assistant, was in the Spurs team at Wembley that day.
While Tottenham are in the last 16 of the Champions League, the FA Cup would appear to be their more realistic route to a trophy this season, but they flirted with defeat before Moura rose to head in Serge Aurier’s superb cross in the 61st minute.
Mourinho, who has only won the FA Cup once, with Chelsea in 2006, cut a frustrated figure at times, especially when his side conceded a soft opener as Fletcher ran through all alone on to a long ball to beat Paulo Gazzaniga with a cool finish.
In Mourinho’s 12 matches in charge since replacing Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham have kept only one clean sheet.
“At that moment I had the feeling of ‘we are in trouble’”, Mourinho, who named a strong line-up, said. “But then everyone reacted. I reacted. The boys reacted. Giovani lo Celso and Erik Lamela (who came on in the 56th minute) helped us a lot.
“We managed to bring the game to our stadium. It’s a game we don’t need, our squad is short with so many problems — but it’s a game at home and we have to go for it.”
Moura came close to winning it for Spurs, forcing Mejias into a flying save, while Aurier blasted wildly over the bar when he had team mates screaming for a pass.
Boro, who had won their last four league games in the Championship, had chances too though, especially in the first half when Dael Fry’s header was saved by Gazzaniga and George Saville’s shot was cleared off the line.
They dug in late on to ensure they will get another chance at Tottenham’s stadium.
“We were against a side who reached the European Cup final and have an unbelievable manager. So for us to go toe to toe with them, which we did at times, (was good),” he said.
The 34-year-old Rooney, captain and assistant coach of Derby, enjoyed his return to the FA Cup as Chris Martin gave the Championship side victory at Selhurst Park.
Palace had captain Luka Milivojevic sent off after referee Michael Oliver consulted a pitchside monitor following a video assistant referee (VAR).