Everton 4 Tottenham Hotspur 1
This time there can be no appeal. Everton, impassioned and inspired, yesterday succeeded where the Football Association, Liverpool, and three other clubs had failed and ended Tottenham’s FA Cup crusade.
It was a result as deserved as it was surprising. Everton, urged on by a frenzied support, grabbed hold of the game in the opening minutes and only briefly loosened their grip.
That was after 62 minutes when Tottenham, trailing to goals from Matt Jackson and Graham Stuart, were awarded a disputed penalty. Jrgen Klinsmann converted and, when Paul Rideout was taken off on a stretcher shortly afterwards, it seemed the German’s Wembley dream might yet be realised.
But it was another World Cup star, one whose English experience has been as galling as Klinsmann’s has been fulfilling, who was to emerge the hero. Daniel Amokachi, who had not scored since his home debut in September, came on as substitute and trebled his Everton goal tally in the last eight minutes. The Nigerian could even have claimed a hat-trick, missing a good chance in injury time.
Astonishingly, he should not even have played. Amokachi came on when Rideout, who had passed himself fit after seven games out with injured knee ligaments, went down in apparent agony. He was taken off on the far side of the pitch to the Everton dug-out and, when he signalled he was all right to carry on, Amokachi misinterpreted it.
“I wanted them to hold on for a few seconds but Daniel wandered on to the pitch, the fourth official held up the board, and that was it,” Joe Royle, the Everton manager, said. “He was desperate to play but he should not have been on. What a good mistake it was.”
For Klinsmann there was not just defeat but, worryingly, a suspicion that he had been hit in the pitch invasion that followed the end of the game. In scenes that bode ill for Elland Road’s European Championship games, scuffles broke out between rival supporters before police belatedly intervened.
It was a sour end to a dramatic match that held the attention from the start. It was not a classic – both sides had key players missing, both fielded unfit players and there were mistakes galore. But it was compelling.
Most of the good football and good performances came from Everton. Dave Watson, confined to bed during the week, and David Unsworth were solid at the back; Neville Southall was alert in goal; Stuart tireless in attack. The outstanding influence, however, was Anders Limpar.
The Swede was, in current football terminology, up for it. Equally crucially, he was up against Stuart Nethercott, out of position at left-back. He had allowed Limpar a shot on goal as early as the sixth minute, misjudging a cross that Limpar volleyed. Walker saved well and was twice tested by Limpar in the next six minutes.
But Everton, as expected, looked most dangerous from Andy Hinchcliffe’s corners. For 35 minutes Walker kept them at bay and supporters from both sides began to wonder if Tottenham – originally banned for financial irregularities – really did have their name on the Cup.
Then, from another Hinchcliffe corner, Jackson got goal-side of Nethercott and headed in. A minute later, in Spurs’ best chance of the half, Teddy Sheringham headed a Darren Anderton corner just wide of the post.
Half-time went with no change in the pattern and, on 55 minutes, Everton struck again. Walker mis-hit a free-kick from his goal area, Rideout won it from Gary Mabbutt and, though Walker saved his shot, Stuart tapped in.
Everton celebrated but, seven minutes later, Sheringham tumbled over Watson going for a high ball and Robbie Hart gave a penalty. Tottenham, rejuvenated, had a Nick Barmby shot blocked then, on 82 minutes, the game was decided.
At one end Southall saved brilliantly from Nethercott’s volley, the ball ran to Limpar who sprinted upfield before finding Horne. He laid the ball off to Stuart whose precise cross was met at the far post by Amokachi. Seven minutes later Limpar broke again, Ablett crossed from the left and Amokachi scored his second.
Since losing at Elland Road, to West Ham, in the 1980 FA Cup semi-final, Everton have won 10 of 11 semi-finals in all competitions. But they have only won two of the finals and have lost three FA Cup finals in the last decade. No matter. After yesterday they know that it is performances that count in the FA Cup, not omens.
Everton (4-4-2): Southall; Jackson, Watson, Unsworth, Ablett; Limpar, Parkinson, Horne, Hinchcliffe; Stuart, Rideout (Amokachi, 70). Substitutes not used: Grant, Kearton (gk).
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Walker; Austin, Calderwood, Mabbutt, Nethercott (Rosenthal, 84); Anderton, Howells, Popescu, Barmby; Sheringham, Klinsmann. Substitutes not used: Cundy, Thorstvedt (gk).
Referee: R Hart (Darlington).