White Hart Lane handed glorious, emotional finale

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LONDON — This was a glorious way to end 118 years at White Hart Lane.

[ MORE: Pochettino reacts to “perfect” finale ]

Tottenham Hotspur beat Manchester United 2-1 in their 2,533rd, and final, game at the Lane on Sunday and the victory meant Spurs went through a Premier League season unbeaten at home for the first time in their history.

It also secured them second place in the PL, also a first, and the victory was their 14th-straight in the PL to equal a club record run for consecutive home league wins.

[ MORE: A look around Spurs’ new home

We all know that the game on Sunday was just a small part of the celebrations as their famous stadium will start to be dismantled on Monday to continue the rapid progress of their new 61,559-seat home next door while they play at Wembley next season.

Sunday was all about saying “Farewell to the Lane” for Tottenham and their fans. They certainly did that with the ferocious chants in the stands matched on the pitch with a dominant display from start to finish.

In his brief post-game press conference, ProSoccerTalk asked Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino what his overriding memory of White Hart Lane would be.

“Now, it will always be the last day,” Pochettino said, smiling. “For me it was a very exciting day because I think it was perfect. The preparation of the game, the game we played well and we got the three points and on the end all the ceremony was fantastic to share with all of the legends, the people, the staff and the fans, the family. For me the most special day will always be this last day at White Hart Lane.”

There was also something spiritual about 30,000 fans waving flags and singing “glory, glory hallelujah” as things came to a close. A huge pitch invasion at the final whistle then saw fans mobbing the players, taking selfies on the grass and eventually they were pushed back for a huge ceremony to begin which ended with a rainbow overhead.

Perfection was the word of the day.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Before the game fans bathed in the glorious late spring sunshine in north London, as a supporter with a Spurs badge tattooed on his calf looked wistfully up to the sky. There was a lot of that going on.

In the streets around Tottenham High Road, Tottenham’s fans chatted about the change to their routine as they walked to the old venue one last time. “Where will I get my burgers from?!” laughed one supporter.

With throwback jerseys from eras gone by littering the streets there was Klinsmann, Hoddle and the jerseys of many others, with one fan even walking around with a retro kit and a captains armband on. Yeah, it was that kind of day.

Outside the stadium “farewell to the Lane” scarves were selling like hotcakes from stands perched up against the construction walls surrounding the building site for the new stadium.

There was a slightly subdued atmosphere before the game, with fans wistfully looking around as they arrived much earlier than usual. The special edition matchday program included countless memories from Spurs greats and old photos from memorial European nights, league wins and more from over the past 118 years.

One Spurs employee said the emotions hadn’t quite hit him yet but he was sure they would during the game.

“I’ve worked here for 20 years, so I’m sure the emotions will kick in. Even though we are sad to be moving on, our history is also our future.”

As fans posed for as many photos as possible outside and inside the stadium, the scene was set for the finale. Many supporters arrived in the stadium early to soak up the atmosphere while reminiscing about their favorite players, memories and moments at the Lane.

With flags on the seat for each fan, a wonderful scene was set as the players arrived on the pitch.

They didn’t have to wait long to get the party started as Victor Wanyama headed home in the sixth minute to make it 1-0 and Spurs peppered United’s goal with efforts as Harry Kane hit the crossbar and David De Gea brilliantly denied Heung-Min Son, Dele Alli and Kane.

Throughout the game the chants became more reflective rather than reactionary as a somber rendition of “glory, glory hallelujah” set things off.

Chants about previous Spurs players soon arrived as Ledely King, Steve Archibald, Paul Gascoigne, Rafael van der Vaart, Jermain Defoe, Glen Hoddle and Teddy Sheringham were all serenaded. At times, it must have been tough for Tottenham’s players to focus as they glanced around them during breaks in the game to drink in the celebrations as a helicopter hovered above.

The game itself was dominated but Tottenham, perhaps reflecting that any tinges of sadness were replaced with optimism and what lies ahead in the next few years for this talented young team in a stunning new stadium with one of the most promising managers in the game, Mauricio Pochettino, leading the way.

Kane added a wonderful flick in the second half to make it 2-0 and despite Wayne Rooney pulling one back, Spurs sealed the win they needed in style as a perfect finale arrived.

That’s when tears started to kick in around the stands as fans led flat on the grass, kissed the turf and performed the now legendary “Klinsmann slide” in celebration.

Eventually a video and musical tribute arrived in a glitzy closing ceremony which saw Spurs legends join the current first team and management squad on the pitch to thank the fans.

All media were instructed to leave the stadium at 8:30pm local time and as the doors closed for the final time, preparations were being made to pull the famous stadium down.

“We are Tottenham, super Tottenham, we are Tottenham… from the Lane!” was sung for the final time on Sunday at Spurs’ spiritual home.

Tottenham can rest easy knowing that they gave one of the greatest-ever cathedrals in English soccer a fitting, glorious finale.

The fact that just as the final song finished in the post-game ceremony a rainbow appeared directly above White Hart Lane added a final chapter to the fairytale ending this historic stadium deserved.

FA Cup: Chelsea survive trip to Hull, advance to 5th round (video)

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With their 2-1 victory away to EFL Championship side Hull City, Chelsea joined Leicester City, Sheffield United and Norwich City as Premier League sides to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup on Saturday.

[ FA CUP ROUNDUP: West Ham bounced; Sheff Utd, Norwich advance ]

Frank Lampard‘s side got off to a flying start courtesy of Michy Batshuayi‘s deflected finish in the 6th minute, and the Blues were well on their way to a first half of total dominance.

Hull looked more prepared for a fight after halftime, but it mattered very little after Fikayo Tomori was gifted a free header two yards off the goal line. Ross Barkley‘s free kick was well placed at the back post and there was nothing that anyone could do to stop it.

[ MORE: Report: Spurs, Inter close to deal for Christian Eriksen ]

Hull pulled the game back to 2-1 in the 78th minute, and they were more than a little fortunate in how they managed to do so. Kamil Grosicki smacked a free kick with plenty of power and got the deflection of all deflections to wrong-foot Willy Caballero and find the back of the net.

The draw for the fifth round will be held on Monday at 2:20 p.m. ET, prior to kickoff of Bournemouth v. Arsenal.

FA Cup roundup: West Ham bounced; Sheff Utd, Norwich advance (video)

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round (early) action…

[ MORE: Saints hit Spurs late to force 4th-round replay ]

The draw for the fifth round will be held on Monday at 2:20 p.m. ET, prior to kickoff of Bournemouth v. Arsenal.

West Ham United 0-1 West Bromwich Albion

West Ham were the lone Premier League side to be knocked out by a lower-division side on Saturday, as David Moyes‘ side failed to find the back of the net and were beaten 1-0 by EFL Championship leaders West Brom.

Conor Townsend scored the game’s only goal in the 9th minute, and though the Hammers controlled possession the rest of the way, they created very little in terms of scoring chances and finished the game with just three shots on target. West Brom finished the game with 10 men, but West Ham could do nothing with their 18-minute advantage following Semi Ajayi‘s second yellow card in the 72nd minute.

Millwall 0-2 Sheffield United

Sheffield United’s dream season continued with a comfortable 2-0 victory away to Championship side Millwall. Both goals came inside the final half-hour, but the Blades were unquestionably the better side even before breaking the deadlock.

That came in the 62nd minute, when Muhamed Besic placed a stunning curler inside the far post for 1-0. Not long before full-time, in the 84th, Oliver Norwood drove his effort hard and low and into the corner to make it 2-0.

Burnley 1-2 Norwich City

Norwich and Burnley were largely inseparable for the majority of Saturday’s clash at Turf Moor, save for a four-minute period early in the second half in which Norwich scored twice and booked their place in the fifth round.

Grant Hanley made it 1-0 in the 53rd and Josip Drmic added to the advantage in the 57th minute. Erik Pieters pulled Burnley back to within a goal in the 73rd, but that’s as close as the Clarets would get.

FA Cup fourth-round scoreboard

Southampton 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur — FULL RECAP
Newcastle United 0-0 Oxford United
Portsmouth 4-2 Barnsley
Coventry City 0-0 Birmingham City
Reading 1-1 Cardiff City

RB Leipzig beaten, Bundesliga title race thrown wide open

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BERLIN (AP) Eintracht Frankfurt defeated Bundesliga leader RB Leipzig 2-0 to throw the title race wide open on Saturday.

[ MORE: Report: Spurs, Inter close to deal for Christian Eriksen ]

Frankfurt defender Almamy Toure scored a brilliant goal just after the break and Filip Kostic sealed the win in injury time to deal Leipzig its first defeat since a 2-1 loss at home to Freiburg in October.

Borussia Monchengladbach cut the gap at the top to two points with a 3-1 win at home over Mainz, thanks largely to goals in each half from French striker Alassane Plea.

Bayern Munich has the chance to cut the gap to one point with a win at home over Schalke in the late game.

[ FA CUP: Saints hit Spurs late to force 4th-round replay ]

Borussia Dortmund is just four points off the top after its 5-1 win over Cologne on Friday.

Also Saturday, Union Berlin defeated Augsburg 2-0 at home, Hertha Berlin came from behind to win 2-1 at Wolfsburg, and Paderborn moved off the bottom with a 2-0 win at Freiburg.

FA Cup: Saints hit Spurs late to force 4th-round replay

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Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur played to a virtual stand-still for nearly 60 minutes before Jose Mourinho’s side broke through with a moment of true quality from Son Heung-min and Giovani Lo Celso, but finished right back where they started after Saints hit back late to force a replay in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

[ MORE: Report: Spurs, Inter close to deal for Christian Eriksen ]

Prior to that, Lo Celso put the ball in the back of the net and briefly thought it was he who had put Spurs ahead, but the Argentine was denied his third Spurs goal on the basis that the ball hit Son on its way through traffic, and the South Korean was in an offside position.

Spurs’ best chance of the first half chance came and went just minutes later, with Lucas Moura in disbelief and Angus Gunn the hero of the moment. Dele Alli played Lucas into open space inside the penalty area and, with the goal gaping to Gunn’s left and right, Lucas looked to place his right-footed shot inside the far post. Gunn was up to the challenge, though, and pulled off a sensational left-footed save from close range.

Seconds later, Saints had a surefire scoring chance and were denied in equally spectacular fashion. Danny Ings used his chest to control a free kick into the box and looped it goal-bound over the head of Hugo Lloris, only for Japhet Tanganga to make the last-second headed clearance in front of an open net.

[ MORE: Mourinho in favor of PL’s winter break, but says timing all wrong ]

Saints were the first to go ever so close to a goal in the second half. Michael Obafemi crossed from the right side and found Ings inside the six-yard box, where he redirected the ball ever so slightly, but not enough, to send it inches wide of Lloris’ right-hand post.

Following a spell that was all Saints to start the second half, Spurs broke the deadlock through Son in the 58th minute. Lo Celso drove through the heart of Southampton’s midfield before playing the ball to Son near the top of the 18-yard box. He took a touch to set up the shot and fired a left-footed arrow inside the far post.

The lead lasted just shy of 30 minutes, close but not quite over the finish line. With 87 minutes on the clock and a full head of steam over the preceding quarter-hour, Southampton got their hugely deserved equalizer. Sofiane Boufal arrived near the top of the box as Ings’ cut-back ball arrived and the Moroccan international hammered it home.

The two sides will meet again for their fourth-round replay in two weeks at the Tottenham Hotspur. The draw for the fifth round will be held on Monday at 2:20 p.m. ET, prior to kickoff of Bournemouth v. Arsenal.