Tottenham 3 Southend 1
Aaron Lennon dazzled on the flanks at White Hart Lane as Tottenham reached the fifth round of the FA Cup at the expense of Southend.
Robbie Keane had scored the opening goal before Lennon set up Jermaine Jenas for the second with a splendid run from the left of midfield.
Freddy Eastwood’s penalty dragged the Championship’s bottom-placed club back into the tie but Lennon then created a goal, this time from the right, for Mido to score.
Although Stewart Downing has played himself into form for Middlesbrough, Lennon could offer a solution to England’s problem on the left when England play next month.
Lennon’s next task, however, will be to continue his impressive form when Spurs face Arsenal in the Carling Cup semi-final second leg on Wednesday when Martin Jol’s men will look to extend their unbeaten run of 13 cup-ties.
Southend never looked like ending Spurs’ fine run in the cup competitions, despite Eastwood’s penalty giving them hope. They also missed chance to score immediately after Spurs’ first two goals – both misses were by former Tottenham players – and their season will now be focused on survival.
Jenas was making a return from nearly two months out with an ankle injury, and he slipped straight back into the pace of the game despite his spell on the sidelines.
He went on a mazy run early on which nearly set up Keane, only for Steven Hammell to get back just in time.
It was the Jenas’ central-midfield partner, however, who set up the opener in the 12th minute.
Didier Zokora carried the ball from defence to attack over 40 yards before finding Keane on the edge of the area, whose shot took a wicked deflection off Hammell before wrong-footing Darryl Flahavan.
Southend, who are bottom of the Championship but had lost only one of their last seven matches, immediately missed a glorious chance to restore parity.
Mark Gower, a former Spurs player, was found at the far post by Eastwood’s cross but the midfielder could not get purchase on his volley and Radek Cerny claimed easily.
Cerny, the Czech Republic goalkeeper standing in while Paul Robinson rested, was then reduced to a role of a spectator for the rest of the first half as Spurs went in search for a second.
They peppered Flahavan’s goal from all angles, Zokora starting their moves and finding runners such as Lennon to continue attacks.
Keane had chances to add to his opener before the break, screwing a shot wide after Hossam Ghaly got behind the Southend defence, then seeing Flahavan tip his flicked finish onto the bar.
He also attempted an impish first-time volley when there was plenty of time to spare, but the effort flew over the bar.
Lennon was deployed on the left flank and could have doubled the lead in the 19th minute but his effort was blocked by Adam Barrett and his rebound flew over the bar.
Flahavan, whose heroics kept Southend in the game when they were at White Hart Lane earlier in the season for their Carling Cup quarter-final, was kept busy throughout.
He had to be down smartly at the feet of Paul Stalteri, who was returning from a hip injury, and the goalkeeper then saved at his near post on the half-hour mark from a Young-Pyo Lee shot.
Even Ricardo Rocha, the Portugal centre-back who was making his Spurs debut following his midweek move from Benfica, had a chance but he headed across the face of the goal from the corner.
Spurs also had two first-half penalty shouts turned down, the first when the ball struck Jamal Campbell-Ryce and the second when Jenas was hauled down by Barrett.
Jenas doubled the lead in the 49th minute but it was Lennon’s pace that created the chance.
The England winger left Lewis Hunt bemused when he flicked the ball around him, and he then twisted and turned his way beyond Campbell-Ryce, with Jenas scuffing the cross in.
Kevin Maher, another former Spurs player, could have reduced the deficit two minutes later but Cerny tipped over his powerful effort.
Southend, however, were handed a lifeline when Ghaly handled in the area, with Eastwood scoring the penalty.
Mido restored the two-goal advantage with a finish off the underside of the crossbar in the 75th minute after Lennon had crossed, this time from the right.