Marine 0 Tottenham 5: Carlos Vinicius nets hat-trick as Mourinho's men dodge eighth-tier banana skin
PLENTY of us have imagined that if a Jose Mourinho team was playing in our back garden, we would draw the curtains.
Not so the back-garden army who watched from treetops, ladders, shed roofs and verandas as Tottenham ran riot at Marine’s Rossett Park.
There was even a cardboard cut-out of Jurgen Klopp peering over the fence of one of the houses which back on to the Merseyside home of the Northern Premier League Division One North West club.
But if the setting had been perfect for the quintessential FA Cup upset, then Mourinho’s men were in no mood to be the bumbling anti-heroes of some romantic comedy.
Spurs made the largest gulf in league positions in the 150-year history of this competition look exactly that with four goals in 13 first-half minutes.
Before the rout began, though, there was one moment to leave the curtain-twitching nosey neighbours agog.
After keeping a strong Spurs side at arm’s length for the opening 19 minutes, Marine’s trainee plumber Neil Kengni sprinted clear from the halfway line and produced a powerful 30-yard shot.
Joe Hart – 75 England caps, an FA Cup and Premier League title-winner – seemingly imagined the effort was heading over – yet Kengni’s effort dipped and crashed off his crossbar.
This stunning moment jolted Spurs into life and they were four-up by half-time – Dele Alli the architect, Carlos Vinicius the scorer of a quick-fire hat-trick, his fellow Brazilian Lucas Moura thumping home a free-kick.
The boys from the homeland of the beautiful game would have known little like this – but there was a curious kind allure about this ultimate third-round fixture.
Marine’s collection of binmen, teachers and NHS workers, managed by railwayman Neil Young, had been gifted Everton’s training facilities and Liverpool’s scouting insights on Mourinho’s men.
Yet that was never going to be nearly enough, if Spurs arrived here with their heads screwed on – and despite that slow start, the game faces of the Premier League side were soon apparent.
Mourinho made nine changes from the side which booked a Wembley date in the Carabao Cup Final by beating Brentford on Tuesday – but those coming in included Alli, Hart and Toby Alderweireld, as well as teenage midfielder Harvey White, who was handed a first senior start.
With a gulf of 161 league positions between the two clubs, surely an upset was impossible?
Yet in the first round, Marine had knocked out Colchester United, who had defeated Spurs in last season’s League Cup.
And Mourinho had suffered one major FA Cup shock – when his Chelsea side blew a two-goal lead and were beaten 4-2 at home by Bradford City in 2015.
So nothing is entirely beyond possibility’s realms – especially with a dodgy playing surface and a stubborn, packed defence.
For 23 minutes, these sort of hopes would have been shared by those braving the cold to drink champagne in their backyards.
Yet after Kengni’s nearly moment, unlikely dreams soon turned to dust.
Within four minutes of that, Marine’s resistance ended when Alli played a one-two with Gedson Fernandes and centred low for Vinicius to miscontrol, but then gather himself to round keeper Bayleigh Passant and thump into an empty net with a certain level of relief.
Alli, who was certainly up to the latest personality test handed to him by the sceptical Mourinho, was at it again on the half hour.
This time a gorgeous lofted pass was met with Matt Doherty’s cushioned volley, which was saved by Passant but poked in by Vinicius on the rebound.
Moura hammered home a curling free-kick, then Vinicious completed his treble with a cute, lofted side-footed finish.
At half-time, Mourinho sent on Alfie Devine for his first-team debut and the 16-year-old soon became Tottenham’s youngest-ever FA Cup scorer when he cut in from the left and drilled in a shot which beat Passant at his near post.
If there was any relief among Marine’s players when Alli was withdrawn, there would have been wry smiles at the identity of his replacement – the four-time Champions League winner Gareth Bale.
Spurs had shown Marine respect with their cast-list and with their performance too.
They could not turn this into a complete annihilation job – or perhaps they didn’t truly wish to.
It was a happy occasion for miserable times. Neighbourhood watch had never been so much fun.
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