Fulham thrash ten-man Tottenham
Danny Murphy struck twice from the penalty spot as Fulham clinched an FA Cup fifth round spot with a crushing 4-0 victory over ten-man Tottenham Hotspur at Craven Cottage today.
Murphy's penalties, scored in the 11th and 14th minutes, started a first half rout that was completed by goals from Brede Hangeland and Moussa Dembele. Tottenham, who had Michael Dawson sent off when the centre-back conceded the second spot-kick, had no answer and were fortunate not to lose by a heavier margin.
Mark Hughes's Fulham will now face Wigan Athletic or Bolton Wanderers at home in the fifth round, while Tottenham must lick their wounds and focus their efforts on the UEFA Champions League and the battle to claim a place in the top four of the Premier League.
The team-sheet offered no clues about the disaster that was about to unfold for Spurs, with Redknapp naming a strong side. But after forcing an early corner, it quickly became clear that all the manager's pre-match planning would come to nothing as the visitors began to unravel alarmingly.
The first sign of defensive weakness came in the sixth minute when Clint Dempsey was allowed to rise unhindered to meet Damien Duff's right wing corner and the US international should have done better than direct his header wide.
Tottenham's defending would get much, much worse during an astonishing opening that revived memories of similar capitulations against Young Boys Berne and Inter Milan during the opening months of the season.
With the diminutive Jermain Defoe operating as a lone striker, keeper Heurelho Gomes and his centre-backs were understandably keen to avoid punting the ball long. They quickly discovered, however, the risks of trying to play the ball out from the back, an approach that led to them being two down inside 14 minutes.
Four goals in first half
Fulham's 11th-minute opener came about from a misplaced pass by Dawson deep inside his own half that served only to offer Dempsey a clear run into the penalty area. Dawson's ineptitude was then matched by his colleague Alan Hutton, who crudely barged the striker over to concede a penalty. Murphy duly converted from the spot by placing the ball inside Gomes' left hand post and Fulham were on top.
Three minutes later they were in complete control of the tie when Dawson was caught out again. The defender was robbed near the corner flag by Dembele and when the forward forced his way into the area, Dawson reacted by pulling his shirt and a red card and penalty was inevitable.
Murphy opted to stroke his second penalty into the opposite corner and Fulham were already eyeing a place in the last 16. They were forced to wait ten minutes for their third goal, but could have added two more in between with Dempsey striking the bar and Dembele volleying narrowly wide.
When Hangeland got Fulham's third goal at the far post in the 23rd minute after Andy Johnson had flicked on Duff's corner, home thoughts turned to a landslide. Tottenham were in complete disarray and, while they temporarily managed to stem the flow of goals, there was little chance of pulling one back.
And a miserable opening 45 minutes was complete in added time when Dembele turned Sebastien Bassong too easily in the centre circle before drilling home a powerful left foot shot from 20 yards. Redknapp's side had found themselves in a similar predicament in the San Siro against Inter Milan before responding magnificently thanks to a second half Gareth Bale hat-trick.
But with no Bale - the Wales international was out with a back problem - there would be no repeat and the second half settled into a dull pattern with both sides knowing the contest was over.