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A semi never felt so right

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Tottenham Hotspur 3

(Nelsen – 74, Bale – 77, Saha – 90)

Bolton Wanderers 1

(K Davies – 90)

Second half strikes from Ryan Nelsen, his first for the club, Gareth Bale and Louis Saha were enough to see Tottenham Hotspur book a spot in the semi-finals of the FA Cup despite a late scare from Bolton Wanderers substitute Kevin Davies.

The victory, made difficult by the goalkeeping heroics of man of the match Adam Bogdan, means Spurs will come up against Chelsea at Wembley next month.

Manager Harry Redknapp made four changes from the side that picked up a vital point away at Chelsea last weekend with Carlo Cudicini, Nelsen, Ledley King and Jake Livermore coming in for Brad Friedel, Younes Kaboul, William Gallas and Sandro.

Hungarian Bogdan was in stunning form for the Trotters on Tuesday night as he looked to aid his side’s quest for FA Cup glory.

His first double of the night came after just eight minutes where the youngster was on-hand to deny Livermore at the near post before recovering quickly to tip Luka Modric’s goal bound effort over the bar for a corner.

Bale, Modric and Rafael Van der Vaart were causing all kinds of havoc in the Bolton half and it was the Dutchman who tested Bogdan next with a curling effort in the 13th minute before Bale and Emmanuel Adebayor linked up well, only to see the former’s strike blocked at the near post.

The Bolton shot stopper was called into action moments later to deny first Adebayor and his low curler that looked destined for the far corner and was quickly up to deny Bale’s follow up.

Bale fired just inches wide in the final 10 minutes of the half, while Bogdan was again on-hand to deny Scott Parker his first goal for the club from just six yards out and Bale smashed another effort just wide after some good work by Van der Vaart.

The second half started in similar fashion, this time Bogdan was beaten by Van der Vaart, but his free-kick rattled the crossbar just three minutes after the restart.

King then came close after powerfully heading over from Van der Vaart’s cross in what could have been his first goal at White Hart Lane for over seven years.

Bolton managed their first serious attack of the encounter midway through the second half after Chris Eagles broke forward and saw his effort deflect off Parker and over for a corner.

Spurs continued to press for the opener and despite the best efforts of Adebayor, Kyle Walker, Bale, Van der Vaart and substitute Jermain Defoe; they just couldn’t find a way past Bogdan.

The home crowd breathed a huge sigh of relief after 74 minutes however as Van der Vaart lofted a ball across to the back post and up popped Nelsen to loop the ball over the Bolton goalkeeping and into the far corner to make it 1-0.

And just three minutes later, the lead was doubled when Defoe picked out the marauding Bale on the right and the Welshman made no mistake cutting in onto his left and calmly slotting past Bogdan.

Defoe looked to add his name to the score sheet but was twice denied by Bogdan before substitute Kevin Davies netted after a lapse in concentration from the back four to set up a nervy finish.

With the third minute of injury time approaching, there was still time for a special finish from substitute Louis Saha who turned before lashing past the immobile Bolton shot stopper from 25-yards to make it 3-1 and see Spurs safely to Wembley next month.

What Redknapp had to say

“It was a good performance, I thought we played ever so well again tonight,” Redknapp told ESPN after the final whistle.

“We played with three in midfield and three forward and I thought it suited us again tonight. We dominated the game, we just couldn’t get the goal.

“It took a long while for it to come, but the keeper was amazing for them tonight. I have never seen a keeper make so many saves.

“He made save after save, we hit the woodwork. It was an incredible amount of chances that we had, we just couldn’t get a break in front of goal and he was in great form the goalkeeper.

“We weren’t playing on the break, we were pummelling them and keeping them in their half. I said at half-time that the goals have got to come if we keep playing the way we did.

“The second half started and he continued to make save after save, but eventually the goals came and it was good to see Louis come on and score as well.”

Man of the match

A return to the Tottenham Hotspur of old on Tuesday night, but man of the match has to go to Gareth Bale. The Welshman was constant thorn in the side of the Bolton Wanderers back four and thoroughly deserved his goal in the last 15 minutes, latching onto a Jermain Defoe through ball before calmly slotting past the excellent Adam Bogdan to make it 2-0.

Moment of the match

Ryan Nelsen’s header. The home fans were begin to become agitated and when it seemed like it wasn’t going to be Spurs night, up popped the New Zealander from a Rafael Van der Vaart corner to nod past Bogdan and score his first goal for the club following his January arrival.

Final thoughts

We scored from a corner. That’s right. An actual set-piece, and one we scored from. God bless Ryan Nelsen.

The path to Wembley is now complete. However, it is only half the challenged achieved and with Chelsea in the semi-final, Spurs need to churn out a similar performance to the one last weekend in order to progress to the final.

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