League Cup holders Tottenham Hotspur were humbled by Geoff Horsfield as First Division Fulham completed a giantkilling for the ages at Craven Cottage this evening.
The First Division side inflicted more agony on Spurs boss George Graham as they outclassed their higher division London rivals, with Geoff Horsfield offering a reminder of his credentials for a higher level with a classic centre forward’s display full of physicality, hold up play and exemplary finishing. The former bricklayer, signed by current England head coach Kevin Keegan, added to goals from Barry Hayles and Wayne Collins by firing home the clinching third thirteen minutes from time after he turned a tortured Sol Campbell and fired past Ian Walker with the outside of his foot. There’s no wonder the Fulham regulars frequently sing ‘Horsfield for England’.
On this evidence, Bracewell’s side could prove difficult to stop in the quarter finals. They weathered a strong start from Spurs with goalkeeper Maik Taylor saving terrifically to prevent Chris Perry from heading in a David Ginola cross. The hosts then took the lead within a minute. Horsfield, already showing an appetite for the big occasion, curled in a fine ball to pick out Collins. Walker got a hand to the midfielder’s shot but boyhood Tottenham fan Barry Hayles was alive to rebound and drove Fulham in front.
Tottenham’s frustration saw Ginola berate referee Dermot Gallagher for what the French winger felt was a lack of protection from some fierce Fulham tackling before the former Newcastle man shot in the Putney End from distance and Steffen Iversen also fired wastefully off target. But Iversen briefly raised the prospect of the Premiership side raising their game when he punished a poor clearance from Taylor to curl home an excellent equaliser two minutes before the break.
But Fulham showed their mettle within a minute – retaking the lead through Collins. The midfielder, on his first start of the season, finished off a fine move with a first-time finish from twelve yards after racing onto a reverse ball from the classy Lee Clark. Graham made a double change at half time, replacing Chris Perry and Justin Edinburgh with Ramon Vega and Luke Young, but that alteration did little to resolve Tottenham’s defensive issues.
Steffen Freund was fortunate to escape with only a yellow card after lashing out at Horsfield, but worse was to come on a night to forget for Tottenham. They struggled to make their greater share of possession pay in the second period, with Ginola looking their likeliest source of a leveller even though he was largely restrictions to hopeful shots from distance. In the 77th minute, Horsfield gave the Division One promotion hopefuls some breathing space by holding up the ball magnificently and turning away from Campbell before placing a lovely finish out of the reach of Walker.
FULHAM (5-3-2): Taylor; Uhlenbeek, Brevett, Symons, Melville, Coleman; Hayward, Clark, W. Collins (Trollope 79); Horsfield, Hayles. Subs (not used): Hahnemann, Morgan, Finnan.
BOOKED: Brevett, Hayward.
GOALS: Hayles (10), W. Collins (44), Horsfield (77).
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (4-4-2): Walker; Taricco, Edinburgh (Young 45), Perry (Vega 45); Sherwood, Freund, Leonhardsen, Ginola; Armstrong (Dominguez 65), Iversen. Subs (not used): Baardsen, Nielsen.
GOAL: Iversen (43).
REFEREE: Dermot Gallagher (Oxfordshire).