Tottenham 3 Southend 1: Keane hot and cold for Spurs as realism supplants magic

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The Independent Football

This was the flip-side of the Cup's romance. For every glorious upset, there is a game of mind-numbing predictability. If this was magic, then so too is a dishevelled clown pulling cocktail sausages from children's ears at a toddler's birthday party. Southend were flat, Tottenham were far too good for them, and the only issue at stake was the margin of the Premiership side's victory.

In the League Cup quarter-final earlier in the season, Southend had held Tottenham for 115 minutes. Their resistance yesterday was far briefer, and while Tottenham's opener was a touch fortuitous, Southend's lack of brio made it hard to have much sympathy.

"Especially in the first half I thought we were hanging on," said the Southend manager, Steve Tilson. "Tottenham didn't let us play, closed us down quicker than they did in the first Cup-tie and retained their shape."

Tilson praised Robbie Keane's movement, but the Irishman did not have the happiest of afternoons in front of goal, wasting a hatful of chances. "We did not score enough in the first half," the Tottenham manager, Martin Jol, acknowledged. Typically, when Didier Zokora laid him in after 12 minutes, his shot appeared to be heading wide. It struck the retreating Steven Hammell, though, and took a significant deflection that wrong-footed Darryl Flahavan.

Flahavan made a number of excellent saves, and there was a sense that Tottenham, mindful of having failed to kill off recent games against Newcastle and Arsenal when in the ascendant, were beginning to feel anxious when the second arrived five minutes into the second half.

Aaron Lennon darted down the left, jinked by Lewis Hunt and Jamal Campbell-Ryce and arced a delicious cross to the back post where Jermaine Jenas, excellent in his first game back after two-month absence with a groin injury, touched it in.

"When Lennon's running at the full-backs he's tough to play against," said Tilson, but the more pertinent observation came from Jol as he pointed out the quality of the ball in from what is supposedly Lennon's weaker side. "I think you will see he can play on either side," he said. "And he's still only 19.

Freddy Eastwood pulled one back from the penalty spot after Hossam Ghaly had handled, but, even given Tottenham's legendary frailty, a fightback was implausible. Mido slammed in a low Lennon cross with 14 minutes remaining to confirm the inevitable.

That the Egyptian started was a surprise given speculation linking him with a move to Manchester City, but Jol was adamant he would not be leaving. "We do not sell our good players," he said. Mido limped off late on after tweaking his back, which, with Dimitar Berbatov out for around 10 days with his groin problem, could be serious for Spurs as they head into the second leg of their Carling Cup semi-final on Wednesday.

That game, it is safe to assume, will be a rather more competitive affair than yesterday's.

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