Ndiaye stuns woeful Spurs
WHEN Tottenham needed inspiration they summoned Harry Kane but Sheffield United had the match-winner in substitute Iliman Ndiaye who came on to settle the tie and embarrass the Premier league visitors. Ndiaye struck in the 79th minute, a brilliant solo goal, collecting the ball from a blocked cross, wriggling into a crowded penalty area and firing a low shot through the legs of Eric Dier to beat Fraser Forster at his near post. Bramall lane erupted. The Blades had sent out their fringe team for this one, but they frustrated Spurs and grew into the game.
By the time Ndiaye, a Senegal international who played against England in the World Cup came on, the team second in the Championship were detecting the chance of an upset and it came.
As it did, another trophy slipped away from Tottenham. Now, all that remains is the Champions league, and they trail 1-0 to Milan after the first leg. Antonio Conte, watching from home in Turin, where he continues his recovery after a gallbladder operation, is expected back in the next few days. He would not have expected to be out of this competition by the time he returned. Tottenham made it through the fourth round at Preston without the need for Kane and started with him on the bench at Bramall lane, one of six changes to the team that started in the win against Chelsea on Sunday.
Emerson Royal was absent with a minor knee injury, others took a breather and there were rare starts for Davinson Sanchez and lucas Moura, and a second start for Pedro Porro, a £45million January signing from Sporting who made his debut in a 4-1 defeat at leicester.
After absorbing a flurry of pressure and defending the early threat from corners and long-throws, Tottenham took control and tested Sheffield United’s defensive unit. Moura seized on a mistake by teenager Andre Brooks in midfield and broke clear, his route to goal blocked by Anel Ahmedhodzic. Pape Sarr took aim from 30 yards, an effort comfortably saved by Wes Foderingham. Richarlison dashed clear onto a pass by Sanchez and fired over from the angle. Everyone turned to the assistant referee but there was no flag and it was an excellent opportunity wasted as the Blades resisted.
Paul Heckingbottom had made wholesale changes, replacing eight of the team that started the win against Watford last time out.
There is a sickness bug going around the camp, centre back John Egan was suspended and they travel to Blackburn on Saturday for another big game at the top of the Championship. Heckingbottom’s side worked hard without the ball and deserved their luck when Moura, growing in confidence, dribbled into the penalty area from the Spurs right, jinked past Jack Robinson and clipped a cross towards the far post.
The ball cleared Foderingham, drifted towards goal and glanced the bar before it could be scrambled away.
Having dominated for the first 45 minutes, Tottenham almost gifted their hosts the lead with a moment of carelessness at the back on the cusp of half time. First Sanchez lost an aerial duel with Billy Sharp.
Then Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg left a header woefully short as he tried to find his keeper Forster. Hojbjerg’s mistake left Ismaila Coulibaly clean through on an angle but the midfielder could not make it count, pulling his attempt awkwardly wide of the near post.
Ivan Perisic headed into the gloves of Foderingham from a corner after the break and Son Heung-min flashed a curling drive narrowly over from 20 yards. Still, they found it difficult to unlock the Blades. Heckingbottom, looking down from his seat in the TV gantry, sent a message that it was time to send on
some of the first-team regulars, starting with Sander Berge and Max lowe. Spurs responded by sending on Kane and Dejan Kulusevski.
The tie opened up as the two teams searched for a goal without the need for extra-time. Sheffield United, kicking towards their fans in the Kop were roared on.
Twice Porro broke forward on the right and took aim from distance without troubling the goalkeeper and it was Ndiaye who found the magic touch.