In typically idiosyncratic style, the Leeds United manager celebrated with a packet of crisps, washed down with a bottle of champagne. Anything but bubbly afterwards, Villas-Boas was forced to defend his lack of attacking options, but there was no such protection of his side’s suspect back four. The Portuguese was never going to defend the indefensible.
“My wife and kids are away at the moment so I’m on my own to celebrate,” manager Warnock revealed after his side claimed a third top-flight scalp this season. “I’ll have a few glasses of champagne, and I might even treat myself to a packet of crisps.”
The chance to let his hair down was fully deserved, as the hosts beat Tottenham in the FA Cup for the first time since 1972 — the only occasion when they’ve gone on to win the competition.
After failing to match the hosts for work-rate and desire in making five changes, Tottenham’s priorities clearly sit elsewhere, although they fashioned enough chances to have progressed to the last 16. Clint Dempsey claimed his fifth goal in as many games with a looping header deflected in off Tom Lees from a Gareth Bale cross, but the Texan wasted three other opportunities to leave the visitors to reflect on the void left by the absent duo of Jermain Defoe, who has a hip injury, and Emmanuel Adebayor, who is on African Cup of Nations duty.
“Of course, it’s disappointing to lose,” Villas-Boas admitted. “Our attacking options are something we’ve discussed at length, and we’re happy with the ones we have, but we understand injuries can put us in a difficult position. We’re happy with the squad, and this defeat isn’t going to alert us to anything but we missed Defoe, who gives us options.
“He took a knock in training but he will be back for the next game.”
It wasn’t just at the sharp end where Tottenham, semi-finalists in two of the previous three seasons, were found wanting. Both Leeds goals, scored at the outset of each half, came from abortive attempts to play offside. Luciano Becchio, their 19-goal top scorer who was dropped after submitting a transfer request last week, was barely missed.
With 15 minutes gone, a volleyed pass down the left from Leeds skipper and former Spurs midfielder Michael Brown was flicked on by El Hadji Diouf to leave Spurs full-back Kyle Naughton exposed and Luke Varney, who has been far from prolific this season, with a clear run on goal.
The forward still had plenty to do as he advanced into the area from a diminishing angle, but he kept his composure to curl a calm finish past Brad Friedel from inside the six-yard box for his first goal since the opening day of the season.
Only a fine block from Friedel at the feet of Ross McCormack at the end of the half denied Leeds a second goal. All the other clear chances were carved out and spurned by the Premier League side.
McCormack soon made amends, scoring Leeds’ second with his fifth domestic goal of the season five minutes after the restart. The Scotland forward exchanged passes with Diouf to race 30 yards into the area before cutting inside Steven Caulker to fire a powerful shot into the top right-hand corner.
Dempsey quickly halved the deficit, but missed with a far easier opening from an Aaron Lennon cross, before substitute John Obika saw a late opening blocked.
“Leeds were extremely competitive and we needed to avoid them scoring first,” Villas Boas added. “If they hadn’t got that goal in the opening 15 minutes, it would have been a different game, but as a team we have to reflect on the goals we conceded.”
Warnock’s reflection over champers and cheese and onion would have been a rather more satisfying task. He added: “Tottenham are a side I’d pay to see, but we matched them in all the important areas and I’m proud of my players. There were tackles flying in and they stuck their heads in where it hurt. It was a fantastic advert for the FA Cup.”
LEEDS UNITED (4-4-2) Ashdown 8; Byram 7, Lees 7, Peltier 7, White 7; Green 7, Brown 7, Austin 8, Varney 7; Diouf 7 (Pearce 90, 5), McCormack 8 (Somma 90, 5).
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (4-4-2) Friedel 6; Naughton 6 (Walker 66, 5), Caulker 5, Vertonghen 5, Assou-Ekotto 6; Lennon 5, Parker 6, Huddlestone 5 (Obika 58, 5), Bale 5; Dempsey 6, Sigurdsson 4 (Dembele 58, 5) .
Referee: Kevin Friend.