Spurs' Mourinho hails Bale after Cup win at Wycombe

Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho heaped praise on Gareth Bale after the Welsh winger scored in Monday’s 4-1 victory at Wycombe Wanderers in the FA Cup fourth round.

Bale started for the first time since December 23 and netted the equaliser in first-half stoppage time after Fred Onyedinma had given the Championship (second-tier) side a shock lead.

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Bale, 31, has struggled for form and fitness but looked sharp in completing his first 90 minutes since returning on loan from Real Madrid.

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“He was good. Good movements, one against one, beating people, attacking, creating chances, scoring a goal,” Mourinho told reporters.

“I never felt he could not play 90 minutes, I never felt I needed to change him.”

Mourinho made 10 changes to the side that beat Sheffield United in their last game but brought on first-team regulars Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Tanguy Ndombele as they chased the win in the second half.

Harry Winks put Spurs ahead in the 86th minute before Ndombele struck twice to book their spot in the fifth round.

Mourinho said Spurs would not sacrifice the Europa League or cup competitions despite a crowded fixture schedule and were determined to compete in all competitions.

“Even when we had to play four matches in one week and people thought we were going to give away Europa League or Carabao Cup we didn’t,” Mourinho told BBC. “Today we brought the whole squad — only Hugo Lloris stayed at home.

“February we have to play three competitions with FA Cup and then Europa League. Of course it will be very hard but we have to try.”

Spurs are fifth in the Premier League with 33 points from 18 games and host champions Liverpool on Thursday.

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Tottenham come from behind to beat Wycombe – with help of super subs

Goals from Gareth Bale, Harry Winks and two from Tanguy Ndombele took Spurs into the fifth round of the FA Cup, where they’ll play away to Everton. But they were pushed hard by a game Wycombe, the bottom side in the Championship defending well and causing problems in attack before succumbing to the Premier League side’s superior class.

Both sides could have scored more than once in an entertaining first half in which Spurs hit the woodwork twice, but had to settle for one each. On 25 minutes, Uche Ikpeazu got the better of Toby Alderweireld and crossed for Fred Onyedinma to finish, then in time added on, Gareth Bale ran untracked into the box and hooked Lucas Moura’s cross past Ryan Allsop.

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The second half was all Spurs, but they missed a succession of presentable chances until, on 86 minutes and with extra-time looming, Harry Winks planted a fine finish past Allsop. Then seconds later, Heung-min Son, fed Ndombele, his fellow sub, and he settled the match.

TALKING POINT

It’s a while since Gareth Bale was a footballer, so it’s no great surprise that it’s taking him time to get back into the swing of things. There remains a sense that he was not signed at Jose Mourinho’s request, but Mourinho proudly celebrates his beefs and there seems to no personal animus (at this stage).

The problem for Bale is that in order to find form, he needs to play regularly … but in order to play regularly, he needs be in form – that much Mourinho has made clear. And Bale did himself no harm tonight, creating various chances for himself before finally taking one created for him.

With so many games between now and the end of the season – Spurs are in three cup competitions and have played one game fewer than most Premier League sides – they’ll need all their players, never mind one as talented as Bale. More performances like this one, and his chance will come sooner rather than later.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Tanguy Ndombele (Spurs) Didn’t play for long but his introduction that turned the match in Spurs’ favour and his second goal was better than everything else that happened put together.

KEY STAT

Harry Winks has scored two goals in his last nine games, as many as he had in his first 152 appearances for Spurs.

KEY MOMENTS

25’ – GOAL! Wycombe Wanderers 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur (Onyedinma) Have a look! Ikpeazu turns Alderweireld, who gets too close in pursuit of bouncing ball. His cross is low and kicks off Sissoko – of course it does – and Onyedinma keeps his composure to sweep inside the near post! Now then.

45+2’ – GOAL! Wycombe Wanderers 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur (Bale) Ah. Moura is given loads of time to wing a cross into the box and Wycombe take a nap, Knighty playing everyone on while his mates do nowt, so Bale, who’s made a near-post run, is able to hook the bouncing ball past Allsop.

80’ – Ye’ve gottae score! Sissoko drives down the right, cuts back for one of the best finishers in the game … and Son hoiks over the bar! That was quite an oversight.

86’ – GOAL! Wycombe Wanderers 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur (Winks) Ndombele dinks a lovely ball over the top towards Kane on the far side … but again, Allsop does really well ot block. This time, though, the ball breaks to Winks just outside the box, and he takes a touch, composes himself, and plants a fine finish into the far side-netting.

88’ – GOAL! Wycombe Wanderers 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur (Ndombele) Goodnight. Son nashes forward at inside-left, picks out Ndombele, and he reacts quickly to dismissevely stroke home.

90+3’ – GOAL! Wycombe Wanderers 1-4 Tottenham Hotspur (Ndombele) Son slides a fine ball into Ndombele, who still has plenty of work to do. But how does he do it! He chops inside, flicking feet over the ball and sending two defenders to Falkirk, then finishes beautifully inside the near post. ;™á

PLAYER RATINGS

Wycombe Wanderers: Allsop 8, McCarthy 5, Grimmer 5, Knight 6, Jacobson 6, Wheeler 6, Thompson 6, Bloomfield 5, Muskwe 5, Ikpeazu 6, Onyedinma 6. Subs: Charles 6, McCleary 6, Kashket 6, Akinfenwa 6.

Tottenham Hostpur: Hart 6, Tanganga 6, Alderweireld 7, Davies 6, Winks 7, Sissoko 6, Bale 7, Lamela 6, Moura 7, Vinicius 6. Subs: Hojbjerg 6, Kane 6, Son 6, Ndombele 8, Rodon 6.

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Jose Mourinho discussed Wycombe Wanderers manager Gareth Ainsworth’s love of rock and roll on Friday, ahead of Tottenham Hotspur’s FA Cup fourth round meeting with the Championship side at Adams Park on Monday. Ainsworth sings in a rock band – The Cold Blooded Hearts – and looks as though he would be just as comfortable on a stage as he would be on the sidelines.

00:00:34, 215 views, 2 hours ago

United dig deep to keep Liverpool miserable – The Warm-Up

MONDAY’S BIG STORIES

So is this a crisis or not?

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AN HOUR AGO

If anybody was looking for proof that the FA Cup was magical, you got everything you wanted and more at Old Trafford. Something strange happened. Something we thought impossible. Manchester United played Liverpool, and it was a really good game.

Not perfect, of course. We’d have needed 76,000 paying customers being squeezed through the mangle for that. But five excellent goals, the lead see-sawing back and forth, and enough salt about refereeing to power everybody’s sense of moral outrage. Clearly, the Premier League is too serious for this kind of fun. Clearly, the FA Cup is better for it.

And clearly, what has to happen now is we have to work out how this performance fits into the wider atmosphere of crisis (or “crisis”, or even CRISIS!!!) around Liverpool. Because they lost. Again. Crisis continued, on the face of it.

But they also looked more dangerous, more like Liverpool, than they have at any point since they scored too many goals against Crystal Palace and upset the order of things. There were familiar patterns: steal the ball in midfield, slip the pass through the defence, Salah chip. 1-0. The kind of thing that just hasn’t been working since the year turned. So, crisis abating?

Jurgen Klopp certainly thinks so (and, secretly, we suspect he’s not too unhappy to have been given a couple of free weekends):

I saw a lot of steps in the right direction and that’s all good. It’s not what we wanted, so it’s frustrating. We weren’t on our absolute top, but we made a lot of steps in the right direction. You don’t have to worry about us, as a group we are really together.

For Rhys Williams’ sake, let’s hope so, because United spent an hour and a half bullying the poor lad. If Williams were 29, we’d be asking questions about him; as he’s 19, the questions all have to be pointed elsewhere. In the long term, towards whoever decided to try and navigate the most compressed season in the recent history of English football with just three senior centre backs, one of which can’t play three times a week.

In the short, however, Matip and Jordan Henderson should be back to face Spurs. If Liverpool are snapping out of their funk, it’s just in time: they’ve got Tottenham, City, and a Merseyside derby coming up, along with West Ham, Leicester, and Atletico Madrid. February’s the shortest month of the year, but for Liverpool it’s going to be massive. One way or the other.

As for United, you know the drill by now. A little bit skittish, a little bit vulnerable, a lot excellent, and very, very Bruno Fernandes. Whether they can keep doing it in the league is one question, but between their deep bench and their refusal to lie down, they’ve got the makings of an extremely good cup team. And here was proof that they can go into these big games on the front foot and still prevail. Maybe they’ll even make it past a semi-final this time.

Tammy Abraham makes his point

As for the Premier League’s other flailing giant, Frank Lampard’s Chelsea (managed by Frank Lampard in association with Frank Lampard) were given a bit of scare by Luton Town. But ultimately, the big boys prevailed.

We don’t know if Lampard spent the night before asking the gods of football: “Who is my best striker? Please, send me a sign.” But if he did, he got what he asked for, and if he didn’t then he got told anyway. A hat-trick for Tammy Abraham and a missed penalty for Timo Werner: not quite a lightning bolt, but about as subtle.

On the other hand, if Lampard was hoping that his out of form players might be able to play themselves back into shape, he’ll have been disappointed. The stand-out performances came mostly from the edges of the squad: Abraham scored three and looked dangerous, Callum Hudson-Odoi did more in 20 minutes than Christian Pulisic managed in 70, and Billy Gilmour strolled around like he owned the place.

Of course there’s only so much that can be learned from the FA Cup’s magical mismatches, and Luton gave Chelsea a helping hand with an ambitious starting formation. Nathan Jones changed his side’s shape after 20 minutes, at 2-0 down, and later acknowledged that he might have miscalculated.

But what a strange game football can be. Lampard will have wanted nothing more than a comfortable win, a few goals, a moment’s temporary relief from the league. He got all that, and it leaves him with nothing but more questions. Well, that and a place in the fifth round. It’s at this point we realised we’ve done two FA Cup stories and focused mostly on the league implications. Appalling behaviour. We can only apologise.

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Here comes Martin Ødegaard

Credit to Arsenal’s scouting department. The departure of Mesut Ozil to pastures Turkish has left the Arsenal squad short on two things: imagination in midfield and exciting punctuation. So here comes Martin Ødegaard to solve both problems at once.

Deal agreed yesterday, medical coming up today; the highly online Arsenal community could be altering their usernames by this evening. And on paper, he looks ideal. Ødegaard is exciting, creative, intelligent, and young, but not as ridiculously young as Emile Smith Rowe. Sure, he’s not been getting in the Real Madrid team. But Real Madrid are weird.

You know what else is weird? A half-season loan. And this one puts Arsenal in a slightly peculiar place. Essentially, Ødegaard gets four months on Arsenal’s dime to show the whole world what he can do. They will want Ødegaard to do well, obviously. But if he does really well, then there will be plenty of competition for his signature come the summer. Some of those teams will have more money than Arsenal. Some might have Champions League football; Arsenal may not.

Which means that the ideal result here is for Ødegaard to play well enough to earn a place in Mikel Arteta’s grand rebuild, but not so well that somebody else — somebody already quite built — nips in and pinches him. It’s all a question of balance. Consistent sevens out of 10.

Obviously we’re well into pure speculation here. And if he does really well, then Arsenal will be back in the Champions League and there’ll be nothing to worry about. That seems the best plan for all at the Emirates. Just have Ødegaard win every game. Easy peasy.

IN OTHER NEWS

Cheltenham Town couldn’t quite hold on against the moneybags might of Manchester City, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort from Ben Tozer.

RETRO CORNER

Happy birthday, David Ginola. You know, when the year 2000 flashed up here, we instinctively thought, “Huh, that doesn’t seem that retro.” And then we remembered that the year 2000 was 21 years ago, and we felt tiny and insignificant in the face of pitiless time. Some lovely goals, though.

HAT TIP

Over to the Guardian for today’s lesson in applied footballing history, as Jonathan Wilson tries to work out if Manchester United’s lack of philosophy is, right now, the best philosophy of all.

Not having a philosophy, paradoxically, is the United way. When Noel Cantwell arrived at Old Trafford in 1960, he was appalled by how primitive the thinking at the club was. He had come from West Ham, where players would meet after training at an Italian cafe near Upton Park to discuss the latest trends and innovations. At United, training was a few weights, a few sprints, a bit of head tennis and an often violent kickabout on the cinder-strewn waste ground between the back of the stand and the railway fence.

COMING UP

The FA Cup fourth round continues, and Tottenham play their 1,073rd game of the season away to Wycombe Wanderers. Hey, Gareth Bale might get a game.

Marcus Foley, sometimes known as the David Ginola of the Warm-Up team, will be here tomorrow.

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Klopp: We weren't good enough

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp thought his side left themselves too exposed in their 3-2 loss to Manchester United in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday evening.

The Premier League champions continued their poor domestic form as a thrilling contest was settled by a Bruno Fernandes free kick.

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After seeing his team concede three goals, Klopp acknowledged some defensive weaknesses.

“There were a lot of good things and some mistakes around the goals. If you want to win here you have to be absolutely top and we were not,” the German admitted.

“For the first goal we had no protection, we wanted it too much. Things like this should not happen but they can happen. We had too many players in a receiving position.

“We can take things out of this game, we try to learn from every game. It’s good for Mo Salah, good for confidence. It was a tough game. We wanted it hard but tonight it was not enough.

“If you win a game there are negatives, if you lose a game too but I saw the boys really, really wanted it. We had problems on the counter-attack, it was intense, but there were positives.”

Manchester United will face West Ham United at Old Trafford in the fifth round.

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Solskjaer: Fernandes practised free-kicks for 45 minutes on Saturday

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer praised his side’s resilience as they edged rivals Liverpool 3-2 in the FA Cup fourth round – and reserved special adulation for match-winner Bruno Fernandes.

Fernandes came off the bench to win the game with an expertly placed free-kick after the sides had traded the lead.

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Speaking to BBC Sport, Solskjaer said: “Brilliant – you know when you go a goal down, the reaction of everyone was really good.

“We played some really good stuff, good goals, we have to defend well against them and we managed to react well and of course towards the end there were some moments but we kept them away.”

The Norwegian praised Fernandes’ dedication on the training ground for the goal that proved the winner.

“Great goal, good free kick,” he said.

“When you leave him out like I did today, he stayed about 45 minutes after training yesterday shooting free kicks so I was pretty confident he could score one if he got the chance.

“He’s never happy with me when I tell him to go inside after training when he’s playing the next day so he got some practice yesterday.

“Marcus [Rashford] has played up front, down the right and left and we felt if we could switch the ball early today we could attack them because Liverpool defend on the front foot so we have to be quick on the ball, we did that well.”

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Fernandes was pleased to mark a year at the club with yet another goal, in what has been a brilliant time at Old Trafford.

“We played well, we created a lot of chances, pressed them more than the game in the league,” Fernandes told BBC Sport.

“A lot, it is a dream come true to pay for this club in the Premier League.

“Everyone knows and I know now the fans are happy and will have a good week.”

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Calvert-Lewin on target as Everton ease into fifth round

Everton booked a place in the FA Cup fifth round for the first time in five years courtesy of a routine 3-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday at Goodison Park.

Carlo Ancelotti once again demonstrated how seriously he is taking the competition with a strong line-up that ultimately had far too much for the Championship strugglers.

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Dominic Calvert-Lewin got the ball rolling when he marked his return from a hamstring problem with a first goal in seven outings on the half hour. The England forward slid home Andre Gomes’ lovely cross to notch his 15th of the season for the Blues and his first since December 5.

The Blues upped the ante following the restart and took firm control of the tie with a quickfire double. Both goals came from James Rodriguez corners as Richarlison and then Yerry Mina made the most of perfect deliveries and some static defending.

Wednesday had made a fist of it in the first period but never truly looked like causing an upset as caretaker boss, Neil Thompson saw their three-match winning run in all competitions come to an end.

Everton will now host Wycombe or Tottenham in round five.

More to follow.

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Everton v Sheffield Wednesday – Follow LIVE

Follow the The Emirates FA Cup live Football match between Everton and Sheffield Wednesday with Eurosport. The match starts at 21:00 on 24 January 2021.
Who will come out on top in the battle of the managers: Carlo Ancelotti or Neil Thompson? Find out by following our live matchcast.

Catch the latest Everton and Sheffield Wednesday news and find up to date Football standings, results, top scorers and previous winners.
Football fans can find the latest Football news, interviews, expert commentary and watch free replays. See detailed profiles for Everton and Sheffield Wednesday. Catch all the upcoming competitions. Make Eurosport your go-to source for sports online from Football to cycling, F1, winter sports and more. Enjoy live streaming of this season’s top sports competitions.

Manchester United v Liverpool – FA Cup LIVE

Follow the The Emirates FA Cup live Football match between Manchester United and Liverpool with Eurosport. The match starts at 18:00 on 24 January 2021.
Who will come out on top in the battle of the managers: Ole Gunnar Solskjær or Jürgen Klopp? Find out by following our live matchcast.

Catch the latest Manchester United and Liverpool news and find up to date Football standings, results, top scorers and previous winners.
Football fans can find the latest Football news, interviews, expert commentary and watch free replays. See detailed profiles for Manchester United and Liverpool. Catch all the upcoming competitions. Make Eurosport your go-to source for sports online from Football to cycling, F1, winter sports and more. Enjoy live streaming of this season’s top sports competitions.

Super-sub Fernandes wins thriller for Man Utd to deepen Liverpool's woes

Manchester United advanced to the fifth round of the FA Cup with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Liverpool at Old Trafford.

Liverpool took the lead in an entertaining first half, when Roberto Firmino played in Mohamed Saleh, who chipped the ball classily over Dean Henderson. United were level within 10 minutes, when Marcus Rashford picked out Mason Greenwood, who buried the ball into the bottom corner.

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Rashford put United back in front just after half-time, only for Salah to equalise after Liverpool dispossessed United high up the field. With just 12 minutes remaining, substitute Bruno Fernandes settled the tie with a brilliant free kick into the bottom corner.

United now advance to the fifth round, where they will have a home tie against West Ham United.

More to follow.

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