Erik­sen rel­ishes free­dom of Lib­erty

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - SOCCER - STU­ART JAMES

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.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.