Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Sheffield United: Late Townsend PK gives Spurs first-leg edge vs plucky Blades

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These are just any minnows, these Blades of Sheffield United. No, these fellas scrapped their way into the FA Cup semifinals last year before bowing out to Hull City, and entered Wednesday’s semifinal first leg at White Hart Lane within shouting distance of another trip to Wembley Stadium.

Standing in their way was Spurs, 2008 winners and highly-favored to advance to face the winner of Liverpool and Chelsea (who drew 1-1 at Anfield on Tuesday).

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How would it shake out?

Well, for a while, it wouldn’t. The match was delayed for 15 minutes due to traffic problems in London, and the on-field action had a bit of a lull as well. It was 0-0 at halftime, with chances at a premium.

Sheffield was, of course, quite content to sit back and hope for an edge in the second leg back at home, but a Jan Vertonghen ball to Roberto Soldado was pushed out of play by Jay McEveley’s left arm. The penalty was given, and Andros Townsend sated the previously-impatient home crowd.

Spurs controlled the second half, but the Blades put some scares into the hosts with some counters and corners. Unfortunately, the club proved to be lacking in quality of service, especially on the corners, and threats were easily averted by Tottenham.

Sheffield had knocked off West Ham United and Southampton to reach this stage, with the latter coming at Bramall Lane. Can they find similar magic next Tuesday to erase the 1-0 deficit and earn a Cup final date? Nigel Clough’s men have at least ensured a puncher’s chance at a miracle finish.