After 120 minutes and nine goals it was Everton who progressed from this FA Cup fifth round thriller, and what a game they and Tottenham Hotspur served up. When teams treat the FA Cup with respect and deploy their experienced charges, games like this are possible. Pure joy.
Unlike league matches these one-off ties are different, one-night spectaculars. And this one threw goals and drama straight at us in abundance.
Story of the game
It started so well for Spurs. The game was only four minutes old when Heung-min Son whipped in a corner-kick for Davinson Sanchez to rise above all else and glance in his 2nd goal for the club. It was too easy for Spurs.
Had it not been for Robin Olsen the visitors would have been well ahead before the quarter-hour mark. The Swede had to lunge to his right to deny an Erik Lamela header in the first minute, Lucas Moura stabbed the rebound wide. Son was Spurs’s liveliest player: he instigated one promising counter that petered out before bringing another acrobatic save from Olsen.
Everton were culpable of giving the ball away in midfield too often. Spurs were happy to collect and counter down the pitch whenever they were given the chance. The home side’s first goal attempt came in the 35th minute when Yerry Mina headed a corner over having perhaps been put off by Michael Keane in front of him.
It was then that the glut of goals arrived. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg turned into trouble in his own defensive third, Alex Iwobi played the ball into Dominic Calvert Lewin and it sat up for him to hammer a volley at goal. It was well struck, Hugo Lloris got a good hand to it but it went through him.
Two-and-a-half minutes later and Carlo Ancelotti’s side were ahead. Lucas Digne passed inside and Calvert-Lewin back-heeled the ball onto Richarlison. The Brazilian manoeuvred to his right before shooting low into the bottom corner.
What’s more, the home side were awarded a penalty when Hojbjerg clipped Calvert-Lewin as he ran into the Spurs area. Gylfi Sigurdsson made no mistake from the spot and sent Lloris the wrong way. Spurs’s early lead had been annihilated in seven minutes.
There was still time in first half stoppage-time, however, for Spurs to score a second and finish the half the stronger. A quick one-two between Son and Lamela should have been cut out by Mina but instead Lamela was able to bear down on goal and lift the ball over Olsen.
It was difficult to say which team headed in at the break the more positive. What’s certain is that a blow for Everton arrived early in the second half when Calvert-Lewin was forced off with a leg injury. Spurs responded by sending on Harry Kane; one striker off, another on.
The Tottenham captain had only been on the pitch for two minutes when the visitors levelled. Another Son corner, this time flicked on by Toby Alderwiereld and pushed out by Olsen, fell for Sanchez who flicked the ball in. 3-3.
FA Cup ties are capable of springing such drama and this one had been played in an open style for some time. Even though the second half was not quite as frantic as the final minutes of the first, there was always the feeling of more goals on the way.
That came true when Richarlison was fed through by Sigurdsson and shot across Lloris’s goal. There were calls for offside and also a foul on Sanchez in the build-up but the goal stood. 4-3. Everton should have scored a fifth when Keane headed straight at the Spurs keeper while Richarlison had a penalty shout waved away when he was shoved by Sanchez.
Yet the drama didn’t abate. In the 83rd minute, another Son corner travelled to Lamela whose effort was headed off the line by Abdoulaye Doucoure. But Son recycled and sent in another cross for Kane to dive and head in at the back post. 4-4, and extra-time beckoned.
The 30 minutes additional were in keeping with regulation time: quick-paced and open. Kane brought a save out of Olsen at one end only for Sigurdsson to chip a ball over the Spurs defence and tee up Bernard at the other. The Brazilian let the ball run across him before smashing it past Lloris. Everton ahead again.
Tactics had long gone out the window, much to the frustration of Jose Mourinho, no doubt. When was the last time he had been involved in a 5-4? It could have been 6-4 when Sigurdsson raced up-field and sent a swerving shot that Lloris kept his eyes on to punch away.
Further chances fell to Kane and Harry Winks but neither could manage the goal that Spurs required. This topsy-turvy rollercoaster of an FA Cup classic had no more twists left. Everton progressed from an evening of pure entertainment.