Carling Cup semi-final: Burnley 3-2 Spurs (4-6 on agg)
Published 01:18 22/01/09 By By David Anderson
This match had it all, and more. And it was not for the fainthearted.
If Harry Redknapp was hoping for an easy night after Tottenham's nail-biting struggles in the Premier League, his wishes could not have been more soundly ignored.
His nerves will still be frayed this morning after one of the most dramatic cup ties in his 25 years of management.
But at least he has another Wembley trip to savour.
Pity poor Burnley manager Owen Coyle. He was barely two minutes from visiting the great stadium, only to have the red carpet dramatically and cruelly pulled away.
Ultimately, Spurs will enjoy the big occasion on March 1 when they walk out alongside Manchester United.
But it was Coyle and his fiercely proud Championship players who deserve just as much credit for creating such a fantastic night. Remember, Spurs, the holders, were 4-1 up after the first leg.
This was supposed to be a cakewalk, not a classic.
But Tottenham saw their three-goal advantage wiped out in 90 minutes.
Away goals only count double in this competition after extra-time, and Spurs were just 120 seconds from going out. But deep, deep into the extra 30 minutes, Roman Pavlyuchenko and then Jermain Defoe scored to claim a semi-final victory they did not deserve.
Redknapp admitted: "I thought we were dead and buried. You're thinking 'what do we do?'."
It was impossible not to feel sorry for Burnley and their fans who had given it everything. They were outstanding as Coyle's battlers refused to accept defeat, despite everything being stacked against them.
Spurs were second best all night, from the moment the hapless Benoit Assou-Ekotto almost put a back pass into his own net.
They never got going and all the football in the windy and rainy conditions was played by Burnley. The home side got the breakthrough their efforts deserved on 34 minutes when the outstanding Robbie Blake scored his sixth goal of the season.
Jonathan Woodgate fouled Martin Paterson 25 yards out on the right and Blake whipped his free-kick around Spurs' inadequate wall.
Some idiots provided some fireworks of their own when they launched a rocket across the pitch, fortunately missing the players and fans.
Spurs threatened in flashes without looking particularly dangerous and substitute Gareth Bale, who came on for Jamie O'Hara, shot wide from a run down the left.
Blake was the best player on the park and he carved out a great opening for Paterson with a left-wing cross, only for the striker to shoot over.
Blake worked his magic again on 73 minutes when he turned the Spurs defence one way and then the other before playing the ball across the goalline for Chris McCann to fire home their second.
And two minutes from time their stunning comeback was complete when debutant Spurs keeper Ben Alnwick dropped a free-kick and Jay Rodriguez lashed the loose ball home.
Incredibly the Clarets had their noses in front in the tie and they would win through to the final if they could hang on in extra-time.
They were doing that comfortably and the fans inside Turf Moor were bouncing in anticipation of meeting United in the final.
But with just two minutes left, Spurs substitute Pavlyuchenko swept home Assou-Ekotto's pass and suddenly it was the away fans who were celebrating.
The goal, harsh as it was, broke Burnley's hearts and they and their stunned fans could not believe it.
Defoe's strike just added insult to injury.
At the end the Burnley fans applauded their side and they have been tremendous this season in the Cup.
This wonderful display and their great wins over Chelsea and Arsenal will live long in the memory of everyone who witnessed them.
Burnley: Jensen 6, Alexander 6, Carlisle 7, Duff 7, Jordan 6 (Kalvenes 39, 6), Eagles 6, McCann 7, Gudjonsson 6 (Rodriguez 81), Blake 8, Paterson 6, Elliott 6.
Tottenham: Alnwick 5, Gunter 5, Dawson 6, Woodgate 6, Assou-Ekotto 5, Bentley 5, Zokora 6, Huddlestone 4, O'Hara 6 (Bale 63, 5), Modric 6 (Pavlyuchenko 65, 6), Defoe 6.
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