It was tempting to say that when Vincent Janssen scores, the visiting team know they have problems. But those of Millwall had taken hold long before the £17m striker came off the bench to claim his first goal in open play for Tottenham Hotspur.
This season’s FA Cup has been defined by its shock results. Think of Lincoln City, Sutton United and Eastleigh or even Oxford United and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Millwall’s last win over Tottenham had come in the months before the outbreak of the second world war. This stood to be an upset to rival them all, despite the League One club arriving on an unbeaten run of 17 matches in all competitions – their best in a single season since 1895-96.
There was never any sense that the established order would be derailed and, once Christian Eriksen had put Tottenham in front on the half-hour, the home team showed why they are so far above their opponents on the league ladder.
Millwall, who are pushing for promotion into the Championship, looked horribly limited. They offered next to nothing as an attacking threat and the manager, Neil Harris, was honest enough to admit that the “scoreline did not do the game justice”. Tottenham were outstanding and, with Mauricio Pochettino having fielded a strong line-up, they swept to their 12th consecutive win at White Hart Lane.
The Millwall supporters would resort to gallows humour after Janssen scored the fifth goal. “Whatever will be, will be,” they chanted. “We’re going to Shrewsbury.” The club visit their League One rivals next month.
The dark cloud for Tottenham was the ankle injury that forced off Harry Kane in the early running. The striker landed awkwardly after a challenge from Jake Cooper and the TV replays were the sort that made one flinch. When Kane suffered a similar-looking injury against Sunderland last September, he was out for seven weeks. There was only apprehension relating to his prospects.
Elsewhere for Tottenham, there were nothing but positives and the biggest one was Son Heung-min, who left White Hart Lane with the match ball, having scored his first hat-trick for the club. The goals took him to 14 in all competitions for the season and there was an eye-catching quality to each of them, even if Millwall’s inexperienced goalkeeper, Tom King, was at fault for the third.
Tottenham had called the tune from the first whistle and Eriksen – who had come on for Kane – broke the deadlock with a low first-time drive past King, after the ball had broken off Dele Alli.
Son’s first goal was too easy, in that he was allowed all the time he wanted to saunter inside and curl home a left-footed shot from 20 yards. His first touch, as Tottenham broke through Alli and Eric Dier, had been poor and it felt as though the momentum had been lost. Alli reacted furiously in the middle, having made a darting run. It did not matter.
Son was taunted by the Millwall fans, hearing shouts of “DVD” and “He’s selling three for a fiver”, while the Tottenham crowd would label their rivals as “The Pikey Boys”. There was an edge to the atmosphere throughout, with 3,600 Millwall supporters packing an away enclosure that had been stripped of its advertising boards. Stewards in hard hats policed the thick segregation lines.
Victor Wanyama headed against the crossbar from an Eriksen corner on 36 minutes and Tottenham had other first-half flickers through Kane, Son, Eriksen and Jan Vertonghen. Millwall were asked to cling on, and they could not do much more. They had conceded only twice in their previous 13 matches. How that record was taken apart.
Tottenham made repeated inroads up the channels and Millwall looked powerless to stop them, even on relatively simple and direct balls. When Kieran Trippier lofted one such pass forward shortly after half-time, Son killed the tie. The South Korean allowed it to drop over his right shoulder before catching the volley sweetly to give King no chance. Son can be a frustrating player, in that he blows hot and cold. On another day this was one that might have ended up on the building site. It was most assuredly his day.
Tottenham poured forward in search of more. Alli and Eriksen had gone close before Son’s second goal and Alli would score the fourth – a tap-in from Eriksen’s cute low cross. Jed Wallace fluffed Millwall’s only real chance on 59 minutes before Janssen shot home from Son’s low cross.
At long last, after 1,134 minutes across 30 appearances, the summer signing had a goal that was not a penalty. He was mobbed by a posse of delirious teammates. Janssen would later miss with a gilt-edged header before King spilled Son’s volley from an Eriksen cross to set the seal on the rout.TG