(AFP) – Jan 22, 2008
LONDON (AFP) — Juande Ramos could have been forgiven for basking in the spotlight after Tottenham routed Arsenal to reach the League Cup final.
But the Spanish coach was keen to let his players take the credit for the dazzling 5-1 semi-final second leg victory which clinched a 6-2 aggregate success and left Arsenal so frustrated that Emmanuel Adebayor became embroiled in an ugly spat with Nicklas Bendtner.
Adebayor appeared to butt Bendtner late in the match as Arsenal prepared to defend a corner, leaving the Dane with blood on his nose.
There was no obvious spark to the clash but the feuding team-mates had to be kept apart by William Gallas. At full-time Adebayor was stopped from going down the tunnel at White Hart Lane, presumably to let him cool down before being in close proximty to Bendtner again.
To see Arsenal in such disarray only made success all the sweeter for Spurs, who finally ended a miserable nine-year run of 21 matches without a win over their north London rivals.
As if reaching their first cup final for six years wasn't enough, Ramos's side had done it by inflicting their heaviest defeat on the old enemy for 25 years.
Ramos had an exceptional record in knockout competitions at Sevilla and now he has taken Spurs to Wembley only four months after arriving at the club.
It is easy to see why Tottenham's directors were so keen to lure him away from Spain. But Ramos was disarmingly honest about his role in the Spurs resurgence.
"Obviously it makes me tremendously happy that the fans are happy with my work and with the team," he said. "But the players are the ones who run and make it work on the pitch.
"It's been a big change but without the collaboration of the players this would have been impossible. The huge efforts they have made to come out of that bad period have made the difference. I want to publicly acknowledge that they are the architects of the revival.
"It is the best performance since I came here and in order to beat a team like Arsenal you have to play well. We didn't make mistakes and were perfect in all areas of the team.
"Arsenal is one of the biggest teams in England so it is tremendously satisfying."
While Ramos and company can look forward to a final against Everton or Chelsea on February 24, Arsene Wenger was left to mount a damage limitation excerise after a chastening defeat.
Wenger stuck to his tried and trusted response in times of stress as he claimed he didn't see the Adebayor incident. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said.
But the Gunners manager certainly saw his highly-regarded youngsters given a lesson in controlled aggression and sustained pressure by Spurs. He insisted they will learn from the defeat.
"I feel that everything went against us. The score is very brutal but doesn't reflect what I've seen on the pitch," Wenger said.
"It is useful to see that some players are not completely ready for that level but also that they have potential. When you are a footballer you have to deal with disappointments. It is part of the learning process as well."
"I don't give too much meaning to the scoreline and I don't regret the team I picked. We have many targets and we go into every season wanting to win trophies, but this was not a priority."
Jermaine Jenas set the tone for Spurs when he burst into the penalty area and drove a low shot in off the far post in the third minute.
Bendtner's headed own goal in the 27th minute put Ramos's men in control and Robbie Keane put the result beyond doubt two minutes into the second half when he finished a lightning counter-attack.
Aaron Lennon steered in the fourth on the hour before Adebayor came off the bench to reduce the deficit with a thunderous strike.
The Togo striker then got involved in his row with Bendtner and Steed Malbranque capped a memorable night for Spurs with a stoppage time fifth for the hosts.
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