Eriksen relishes freedom of Liberty
ON days like this there is no need for Tottenham Hotspur to worry about how they will cope without Harry Kane on the pitch. Christian Eriksen demonstrated why he so much more than a member of the supporting cast as he scored another two splendid goals, taking his tally for the season to 11, to ease Spurs into the FA Cup semi-finals at the expense of a Swansea City side that never turned up.
It was that sort of afternoon for Spurs, who were as comfortable as it gets as they strolled into the last four of the Cup for the second year in succession. Eriksen accepted Swansea’s invitation to give him the freedom of the Liberty Stadium to score his seventh and eighth goals against the Welsh club in 10 matches — you would have thought they would have learned their lesson by now — and Erik Lamela effortlessly stroked home Tottenham’s second in between.
While Spurs can now look forward to a semi-final at Wembley, their temporary home, next month, Swansea’s focus must return to the grind of the relegation battle and trying to preserve their Premier League status.
This was only their third defeat in 17 games since Carlos Carvalhal was appointed as manager but it was a chastening experience and, with the exception of Alfie Mawson, who has just been called up to the England squad, it was hard to think of anyone who emerged with any credit.
Dominating possession from the outset, Tottenham quickly threatened to overrun a severely depleted Swansea team that seemed powerless to prevent the visitors from weaving pretty patterns all over the pitch. It was embarrassingly one-sided at times and the only surprise was that Spurs took until the stroke of half-time to double their lead.
With Jordan Ayew suspended, André Ayew and Andy King cup-tied, and Leroy Fer, Renato Sanches and Wilfried Bony on the long-term injury list, Swansea looked what they were: a patched-up team. That said, Carvalhal was still entitled to expect so much more from a side that showed so little desire and fight in the club’s first FA Cup quarter-final since 1964.
Spurs were in total control and ahead as early as the 11th minute, when Eriksen scored another beautiful goal to add to his collection. From Swansea’s point of view, however, the defending left much to be desired and questions will be asked as to how Eriksen, after exchanging passes with Lamela, was allowed to stride forward towards the edge of the penalty area without coming under any pressure before curling a lovely left-foot shot that found the corner of the net.
Son Heung-min, leading the line for Spurs in the absence of the injured Kane, then had a goal ruled out for offside following the intervention of VAR. Shortly after that Lucas Moura came within inches of touching in a cross from Lamela and Eriksen, once again afforded far too much room, struck another superb left-foot shot that Kristoffer Nordfeldt, stretching every sinew, brilliantly tipped onto the crossbar.
It was, in other words, a matter of time before Spurs scored a second. That moment arrived just as Swansea looked like they might get to the interval only a goal behind, and again the home team did themselves no favours with the way that they allowed Lamela, running on to a pass from Moussa Sissoko, to get into a position where he could shoot. Tom Carroll’s challenge on the Argentinian was weak and Kyle Bartley, as with the opening goal, made a half-hearted attempt to block as Lamela placed a low right-foot shot into the bottom corner.
Swansea had failed to lay a glove on Tottenham in the first half but they came close to reducing the deficit within a minute of the restart. Martin Olsson got forward down the flank and thumped a drive from 25 yards that Michel Vorm could only parry. As Tammy Abraham pounced on the loose ball, a goal looked inevitable, but the striker headed straight at the Spurs goalkeeper from six yards out. It was a moment that felt symptomatic of Abraham’s miserable afternoon.
Whether that would have been a turning point is unclear but it would certainly have given Swansea some much-needed encouragement. Instead, normal service quickly resumed as Spurs poured forward at every opportunity. Eric Dier’s long-range shot was expertly clawed behind by Nordfeldt but the Swansea goalkeeper could do nothing to prevent Eriksen from drilling home his second and Tottenham’s third from the edge of the area. Spurs were coasting.
“We understand the difference between the teams, it is very clear,” said Carvalhal. “For a team like us to win this game, two things must happen: we must be at our best level and Tottenham must have a bad day. It was difficult for us to fight against them.
“We are happy with our run in the cup but after this, we focus on our main competition and that is the Premier League.”