Harry Winks and Tanguy Ndombele struck late goals as Tottenham Hotspur survived an FA Cup scare to reach the fifth round with a 4-1 victory at Wycombe Wanderers on Monday.
With 86 minutes on the clock and the score at 1-1 Spurs were struggling to put away the second-tier Championship’s bottom club but the battling host finally caved in. Winks curled Tottenham ahead before substitute Ndombele struck twice in a cruel end to Wycombe’s challenge after manager Jose Mourinho brought on the big guns including Harry Kane.
Spurs were stunned when Fred Onyedinma gave Wycombe the lead in the 25th minute and a shock was brewing on a freezing night at Adams Park as the visiting team was twice denied by the crossbar. But Gareth Bale levelled with a clever finish just before the interval and Tottenham’s second-half dominance eventually earned it an away trip to Everton.
“If it goes to extra time, it would be bad for both teams,” a relieved Mourinho said.
“The attitude from the players from the first minute was excellent, then the players on the bench, they came with the intention of giving something to the team, so overall it was a good squad performance.”
Mourinho made 10 changes to the side that beat Sheffield United in the last game but it was still a strong lineup. Bale started for the first time since December 23 and completed his first 90 minutes since returning on loan from Real Madrid.
ALSO READ | Chelsea sacks Frank Lampard
Tottenham started in business-like fashion with Erik Lamela having a shot blocked and Bale heading Lucas Moura’s corner wide before he missed the target with another half chance. Yet it was Spurs goalkeeper Joe Hart who made the first save, reacting sharply to tip Leicester City loanee Admiral Muskwe’s flicked header around the post.
Wycombe, with its music-loving manager Gareth Ainsworth braving the cold in tight leather jacket and skinny jeans, began to settle and rocked the visiting team in the 25th minute. Uche Ikpeazu rolled Toby Alderweireld and his cut back deflected off Tottenham defender Davinson Sanchez and fell invitingly for Onyedinma to fire low past Hart.
Spurs responded with Bale shooting into the side-netting and when Moussa Sissoko’s deflected effort hit the woodwork and then Japhet Tanganga’s header from Winks’ delivery also bounced off the frame, it felt like it could be a thrilling FA Cup night.
Had Wycombe, who lost 4-3 to Spurs in a fourth-round classic four years ago, reached the break in front the outcome may have been different. But it switched off in stoppage time and Bale ghosted behind the defence to flick in Moura’s pass.
ALSO READ | Chelsea, Leicester beat second-tier clubs
Mourinho sent on England striker Kane just before the hour mark and, with Wycombe still holding firm, he then introduced Son Heung-min and Ndombele to try and get the job done.
In contrast Ainsworth introduced 38-year-old journeyman striker Adebayo Akinfenwa. Allsop denied Kane twice but he was powerless as England midfielder Winks produced a superb left-foot finish when the ball came out to him on the edge of the area.
Wycombe’s spirit was broken and Ndombele rubbed salt into its wounds with a classy late double.
“The scoreline is probably not a reflection of the game although they were fantastic at the end - I am flattered they had to put some big names on to get in front,” said Ainsworth.
“We looked tired. We’ve given everything and there’s no disgrace from our boys... We’ll take a lot of heart from this.”
- Former champion Wozniacki handed Australian Open wildcard
- IPL auction 2024: Full list of squads, players after retention day
- Manchester United vs Chelsea: Top five Premier League clashes
- WATCH: Bangladesh’s Mushfiqur Rahim out obstructing the field in second Test against New Zealand
- Du Plessis hints at return to international cricket ahead of T20 World Cup