Classy Kane sees Spurs through

Tottenham Hotspur v Portsmouth – Emirates FA Cup Third Round – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – Report

Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Portsmouth

An exquisite strike from Harry Kane five minutes into the second half proved sufficient to see Tottenham Hotspur past a dogged Portsmouth side and book their place in the fourth-round stage of the Emirates FA Cup.

With boss Antonio Conte mourning the loss of his great friend Gianluca Viali, Assistant Head Coach Cristian Stellini faced the media ahead of the tie.

“This is what the FA Cup is all about, playing a team from League One, they arrive with 9,000 fans, it’s so exciting to play this type of match and we have to respect, for sure, the FA Cup, and a big team from League One like Portsmouth. We respect this trophy, and we respect this team,” he enthused.

The Pompey support certainly made themselves heard amidst a raucous cup-tie atmosphere. Nevertheless, early exchange bore little in the way of goalmouth action. Indeed, it was the League One side who provided the first genuine opening when Reeco Hackett-Fairchild’s attempt was turned aside by Spurs stopper Fraser Forster.

Tottenham had made nine changes to the side that had started their 4-0 Premier League victory at Crystal Palace four days previous, including a late switch that saw Oliver Skipp replace Yves Bissouma who was injured during the warm-up. However, their football was largely one-dimensional during the opening period, ladened with sideways passes and little invention or creativity. Papa Matar Sarr’s off-target attempt was the host’s first of the afternoon, swiftly followed by a similarly wayward attempt from Heung-min Son. It had taken more than forty minutes for Tottenham to register those meagre statistics. Understandably, the N17 faithful were not impressed.

Spurs came agonisingly close to opening the scoring shortly after the restart. Emerson Royal’s firm header from Son’s centre hit the inside of a post before bouncing back into the arms of Pompey keeper Joshua Griffiths. But minutes later, Griffiths was left clutching thin air as Kane rifled high into the net from twenty yards after Ryan Sessegnon had teed the England skipper up.

With the shackles off, Tottenham pressed with greater intent. Portsmouth were forced to defend much deeper. Meanwhile, Son’s dead-ball effort drifted wide as Conte’s men sensed the kill.

Skipp should have added a second. However, the midfielder blasted over from close range after the busy Bryan Gil had fashioned an opening. 

While Tottenham perhaps should have won the game altogether more comfortably, that would have been harsh on Portsmouth, who battled gamely and kept the game on a knife edge until its conclusion.

Spurs now turn their attention to the Premier League, where they face North London rivals Arsenal at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday, January 15 (4:30pm).

Tottenham Hotspur: Forster, Tanganga, Sanchez, Davies, Royal, Skipp, Sarr, Sessegnon (Spence 77′), Bryan (Devine 90+1′), Son, Kane (Capt)

Subs not used: Lloris (GK), Doherty, Romero, Lenglet, Hojbjerg, Skipp, White

Booked: Davies (foul)

Goals: Kane 50′

Portsmouth: Griffiths, Swanson, Hume, Ogilvie, Tunnicliffe (Thompson 75′), Bishop (Pigott 85′), Dale (Curtis 87′), Morrell (Jacobs 85′), Hackett-Fairchild (Koroma 75′), Raggett (Capt), Morrison Subs not used: Oluwayemi (GK), Freeman, Thompson, Payce, Dockerill

Booked: Thompson (foul)

Goals: None

Referee: Thomas Bramall

Assistants: Derek Eaton and Steven Meredith

Fourth Official: Carl Boyeson

VAR: Graham Scott

Assistant VAR: Darren Cann

Attendance: 60,161


Brian Jeeves