FA Cup – Defoe hat-trick sinks brave Leeds
A clinical hat-trick from Jermain Defoe sealed Tottenham’s progression in a 3-1 win over a valiant Leeds in their FA Cup fourth-round replay at Elland Road.
The hosts battled fiercely throughout and were still piling the pressure on their Premier League opponents as they sought an equaliser in the dying moments, but the striker grabbed his third strike deep into stoppage time to take his tally for the season to 20.
Defoe (pictured) gave Spurs a 37th-minute lead with a slightly fortunate sliced shot from the edge of the Leeds box which flew into the top corner of Casper Ankergren’s net.
Luciano Becchio levelled for Leeds on the stroke of half-time to send the home fans into delirium, turning the ball home after Heurelho Gomes could only parry Jermaine Beckford’s initial volley into the Argentine’s path.
But Defoe restored the visitors’ lead in the 73rd minute as he stole in to convert David Bentley‘s exquisite cross from the right, and the England striker clinched his hat-trick with a fine solo effort to capitalise on a depleted Leeds defence in added time.
There could have been many more goals in a pulsating first half with the match played at a furious pace, and Defoe was the main culprit as he squandered a flurry of opportunities early on.
The players came out to a thunderous reception, but the 27-year-old had the chance to quell the vociferous crowd if he had not failed to pounce on a poor header from Andy Hughes in the second minute.
Another glorious chance fell to the visitors seven minutes later, but defender Sebastien Bassong blasted his volley over the bar after Peter Crouch took two Leeds defenders away with him from Bentley’s corner on the right.
Defoe then had another opportunity to seize the early advantage as Jermaine Jenas delivered an inadvertent through ball from deep within the Spurs half, but again the striker could not beat the excellent Ankergren, who smothered the ball superbly.
A moment of controversy ensued as Defoe went down under a challenge from Lubomir Michalik on the edge of the Leeds penalty area after Niko Kranjcar slipped an incisive ball through to pierce the hosts’ defence, but referee Andre Marriner waved play on to leave the striker and the Spurs bench incensed.
Defoe finally opened his account after Bentley managed to wriggle past Hughes and cut a neat ball back to the forward, who took a touch, swivelled, then sliced a bizarre effort into the top left corner of Ankergren’s goal.
But Leeds were undeterred and, after Michalik had a free header palmed wide by Gomes, Becchio equalised with an opportunistic finish after another save from the Brazilian to deny Beckford in first-half stoppage time.
The second half was played at a similarly frantic pace, and Crouch missed a glorious chance to restore the visitors’ lead in the 55th minute after Kranjcar flicked a loose ball across the face of goal, but even the lanky striker could not extend his frame to turn the ball home.
Spurs kept their hosts under the cosh for an extended period midway through the half, but Ankergren was again equal to anything Redknapp’s side could muster as vicious drilled efforts from Jenas, then Bentley, were tipped away to safety by the Dane.
Defoe thought he had regained his side’s ascendancy as he stole in to tap home Kranjcar’s precise cross from the left, only to see the offside flag go up to a barrage of raucous jeers from the home fans.
But the England striker had the final say with a cool finish to turn the ball past Ankergren from Bentley’s pinpoint cross out on the right, and Leeds were unable to hit back over the final 17 minutes.
Crouch hit the bar for Spurs in the 85th minute with a powerful header, and as Leeds committed everyone forward in the dying seconds they were hit for a third time.
Defoe broke single-handedly from deep and showed real composure as he rounded Ankergren and slotted the ball into an empty net to seal his hat-trick – and with it the match.
It brought Leeds’ thrilling Cup run to an abrupt end, Tottenham will go on to meet Bolton in the fifth round at the Reebok Stadium.
Dan Quarrell / Eurosport