Not since 1965, when they dumped Arsenal out, have Peterborough got the better of a top-flight team in the FA Cup and the gulf looked as wide as ever here. The outcome would have been a good deal worse for Posh had goalkeeper Joe Lewis not put in such a heavyweight performance.
Lewis kept out all but a Niko Kranjcar effort in a depressingly one-sided first half but another goal for the Croat after the interval, plus one for Jermain Defoe and a late Robbie Keane penalty, saw Tottenham ease into the fourth round.
Spurs' top priority is a Champions' League berth but the eight-time winners never take this tournament lightly and Harry Redknapp, a winner two seasons ago with Portsmouth, certainly sent out a strong line-up. "We don't want to take liberties," Redknapp said. "We had a full house and wanted to put in a performance."
His team dominated but had a force to reckon with in Lewis. Beaten four times by Cardiff last weekend before succumbing to injury, Lewis, 22, showed the qualities that have brought him England recognition with some breathtaking stops. The pick came from Kranjcar when the winger was deftly played in by Defoe and Lewis tipped his powerful shot on to the bar. Defoe had had no such excuse earlier when he too struck the Posh bar from four yards out.
There were a string of further saves worth an entry on the Lewis resumé, not least two from Tom Huddlestone, the second a pile-driver from outside the area, a double stop from Defoe and Wilson Palacios and a giant leap which sent a Gareth Bale shot around his post. "England's No 1," chanted the Posh fans.
However, Lewis could do nothing to prevent Kranjcar from opening the scoring after 35 minutes when he cut in from the left and let fly with his right foot. Spurs may have had Posh's stunning comeback to 4-4 against Cardiff in mind, although a truer formline was a run of one win in 11 games for the Championship's basement club. The second goal arrived 12 minutes after the break, Kranjcar scoring from a cross by Bale, who also fed Defoe for a 70th minute tap-in.
For Posh, Craig Mackail-Smith's strike brought the only real save from Heurelho Gomes. They had no stomach for this battle, certainly not the substitute Shaun Batt who was sick shortly after coming on. "He was caught out by the pace of the game," said manager Mark Cooper, before quipping: "Or maybe it was the six pints of lager he had before the game."
Keane called last orders when he scored from the spot after Danny Rose, who was loaned to Peterborough recently, was felled by Chris Whelpdale. "I thought they might rest a few but they were very strong today," Cooper said.
Referee: Lee Mason
Man of the match: Lewis
Match rating: 6/10Reuse content