Dane denied a hat-trick by the woodwork as Tottenham beat Swansea 3-0
Christian Eriksen a constant menace as much-changed Spurs dump Swansea out of FA Cup
Much as Tottenham Hotspur’s supporters like to highlight the flaws in the debunked theory that Harry Kane is a one-season wonder, it is equally untrue to brand them a one-man team. The last two games, with seven unanswered goals since Kane limped off at Bournemouth and a place in the FA Cup semi-finals secured, are proof of the number of talents in their ranks.
Son Heung-min and Dele Alli assumed the starring roles last week. The Englishman was then benched for 80 minutes as Mauricio Pochettino made seven changes. It was not the risk it seemed. “We keep the same dynamic,” said the Tottenham manager. “The team is not affected by the names.”
One name nevertheless had a significance, that of one of the few to retain his place. Christian Eriksen was outstanding. He was aided by the recalled Erik Lamela, who scored the second goal after helping set up the first.
Yet this was Eriksen’s afternoon. A double took his tally to eight goals in 10 games against Swansea City and, but for the woodwork, he would have had a hat-trick. “I am in a very good place,” said the Dane. If anything, that was an understatement. Finishing only formed part of an all-round display of excellence.
He was scorer, creator, tackler, roamer. Elusiveness and intelligence rendered it hard for Swansea to track him. Ostensibly operating on the left, he dropped deep to act as the playmaker and burst behind the hosts’ midfield. He was everything except a winger.
Perhaps uncharacteristically, he was even a ball-winner. Spurs’ second goal stemmed from him regaining possession. Moussa Sissoko then found Lamela, whose low shot beat an unsighted Kristoffer Nordfeldt.
Eriksen’s skills as a distributor were not reflected in the scoreline, but Son had a goal disallowed after a delectable chipped pass, the South Korean deemed fractionally offside and replays being sufficiently inconclusive that the VAR did not overturn the decision.
It mattered not. Eriksen’s spectacular long-range shooting broke the deadlock, Lamela advancing, the Swansea rearguard retreating and the Dane finding the bottom corner of the net. Spectacular long-range shooting almost produced another goal after another illustration of a right-footed player’s proficiency with his left, Nordtfeldt producing a superb save to tip Eriksen’s shot on to the bar. He nonetheless beat the Swede for a second time after being teed up by Lucas Moura.
“We fully deserved the victory,” Pochettino said. “We played every well. Now, Wembley for the semi-final.”
While he has downplayed the importance of winning a first trophy of his reign, Spurs are in the semi-finals for a second successive year, this time with home advantage.
Swansea, meanwhile, squandered the chance to reach the last four for the first time since 1926. “We did the best in the FA Cup since 1964,” said manager Carlos Carvalhal. “To win, we must be in our best level and Tottenham must be on a bad day.”
Neither was the case. Swansea were deprived of the Ayew brothers, with Jordan suspended and Andre cup-tied, but that did not justify their timidity. Their negative gameplan was defunct within 11 minutes, though Carvalhal waited until half time to react. Then his change of shape almost reaped an immediate dividend, with the former Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm making a terrific double save to deny Martin Olsson and Tammy Abraham. Yet it was a rare attack in a game Tottenham, and Eriksen, dominated.