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City 0 Tottenham 2

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The quarter-final curse that has afflicted both the club and Sven over the past few seasons failed to be exorcised last night in what at the time was one of the more frustrating evenings of following City, and on reflection one of the biggest opportunities wasted.

To plat at home against a side not in fantastic form, reduced to ten men after just twenty minutes on our home ground where we had won every game so far this season is an opportunity that doesn't present itself too often, and clearly we blew it. Big time.

Yes we weren't helped by Steve Bennett's decision to not send off Steed Malbranque - although the Zakora decision was a yellow at most, and seeing the TV replays confirmed that Dunne was fouled in the area, and not just him being a big lump who couldn't get out of the way.

But that aside, we could and should have won that game and progressed through to the semi-finals.

Sven talked after the game about a lack of urgency in the first-half following the sending off, and he got that absolutely spot on. There was a lack of urgency, a lack of confidence, a lack of conviction and a lack of intelligence as we played into Tottenham's hands who displayed a perfect example of how to defend a 1-0 lead with ten men.

The key for their win was undoubtedly Dmitar Berbatov, who in my opinion turned in one of the most impressive displays I have seen against us. On his own up front, with out any support whatsoever he commanded the line, stretched the defence throughout the game and made Dunne and particularly Richards look poor players.

We had been given ample warning before Defoe put Tottenham ahead as Lennon gave notice to Garrido he would trouble him all night and Garrido looked at best pedestrian and received no help from Richards as those two looked on different wavelengths early on.

We received a boost of course when Zakora was sent off, the victim of the (absolutely correct in my view) recent initiative of zero tolerance towards two footed challenges and despite winning the ball and not connecting with the man, Zakora received the red card. Quite why Malbranque didn't follow shortly after for a far more dangerous and spiteful challenge was mystifying.

We really struggled for the remainder of the first half to really create much, with a lack of movement evident throughout the entire team and only Elano's chance really gave us an opportunity to level.

The second half we were more adventurous with both full-backs pressed higher up the pitch and Hamman replaced by Geovanni but there was a lack of intelligence at times and far too often we were prepared to merely hit speculative crosses into a packed Tottenham area.

Both Vassell and Bianchi went close, with Robinson pulling off smart, rather than spectacular saves and in truth, both players should have done better and highlighted that a striker is surely at the top of Svens Christmas list.

With such an attacking formation towards the end of the game as both players and fans grew ever more anxious, we were susceptible to a counter-attack and Malbranque added a second with little over five minutes left to send hordes to the exits, hopes of a Wembley trip and silverware left firmly behind.


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