Two wonderful strikes from Son Heung-min and a debut goal from substitute Arnaut Danjuma helped Tottenham progress to the fifth round of the FA Cup at the expense of a stubborn Preston side on Saturday night.
South Korea captain Son has been largely out of form throughout the season but started the cup tie in the number nine role and gave the visitors the lead after another sluggish first half by belting one in from 25 yards out in the 50th minute.
Son made sure of the result with his second, collecting Ivan Perisic’s flick before finishing well beyond Freddie Woodman, before new arrival Danjuma arrived on the scene to scuff home Tottenham’s third and his first for club 16 minutes after his introduction from the bench.
Quality chances were at a premium during the first half, with Preston players Andrew Hughes and Tom Cannon having efforts blocked while Son found his radar from distance, drawing a good save from Woodman with one strike.
Tottenham found their attacking zip quickly in the second half and took the lead when Son sent a long-range strike whizzing past Woodman into the far corner.
Cannon tried to win Preston a penalty but instead got booked for diving as North End sought to restore parity, but instead Spurs doubled their lead with a well constructed second, again finished by Son. Perisic diverted the ball to the 30-year-old, who escaped the attention of Jordan Storey and converted to put Antonio Conte’s side through.
While Preston defended well for long periods, they couldn’t make the most of their attacking set pieces and struggled in open play before tiring in the late stages of the game with the result seemingly sealed.
The weary legs of the home players helped Tottenham grab a third. Dejan Kulusevski wriggled into the box and crossed low for Danjuma, freshly arrived on loan from Villarreal, to finish in slightly ugly but nevertheless effective fashion.
Spurs have a poor recent record in the FA Cup, having not reached the semi finals since 2017/18 and they will hope for a decent fifth round draw. They were eliminated at that stage in the 2021/22, 2020/21 and 2019/20 seasons.
GK: Freddie Woodman (6); CB: Jordan Storey (6), CB: Liam Lindsay (6), CB: Andrew Hughes (7); RWB: Alan Browne (7), CM: Alistair McCann (7), CM: Ryan Ledson (7), CM: Ben Whiteman (6), LWB: Robbie Brady (7) ST: Ched Evans (6), ST: Tom Cannon (6).
SUBS: Ben Woodburn (6), Daniel Johnson (6), Alvaro Fernandes (6).
GK: Fraser Forster – 6/10 – Was big and strong when needed on Preston’s set pieces.
CB: Japhet Tanganga – 7/10 – Gave the ball to Son to lash in the opener. Saw a lot of the ball and brought it forward pretty well.
CB: Davison Sanchez – 6/10 – Surprisingly captained the side. Largely restricted Preston’s attackers though had a few sketchy moments on the ball. Good in the air.
CB: Clement Lenglet – 7/10 – Solid at the back as Spurs avoided gifting Preston any major opportunities.
RWB: Matt Doherty – 6/10 – Arrived at the back stick in a couple of promising scenarios but the ball didn’t quite fall for him.
CM: Yves Bisouma – 7/10 – Lost the ball a couple of times but was comfortable throughout, popping the ball to his adjacent teammates.
CM: Rodrigo Bentancur – 6/10 – Looked a little short of match fitness before coming off. Played a few errant passes but showed some good link-up play.
LWB: Ryan Sessegnon – 4/10 – Final ball was disappointing and struggled to get the better of Alan Browne down the flank.
RF: Dejan Kulusevski – 8/10 – Was often involved in Tottenham’s more dangerous attacks and provided Danjuma with his debut goal.
ST: Son Heung-min – 9/10 – Made Preston pay for the time and space they afforded him with two cracking strikes from distance. Looked perkier than in recent outings.
LF: Ivan Perisic – 6/10 – Neat flick earned Perisic an assist for Son. Few opportunities to shoot but couldn’t get past Preston’s defenders.
Oliver Skipp (71′ for Bentancur) – 7/10 – Snapped into challenges and kept Spurs high up the pitch.
Arnaut Danjuma (71′ for Sessegnon) – 7/10 – Couple of early sighters of his ability, including a scuffed finish which put Spurs 3-0 up.
Emerson Royal (71′ for Doherty) – 6/10 – Didn’t have too much defending to do following his arrival.
Bryan Gil (85′ for Son) – N/A
Antonio Conte – 7/10 – Will be happy his side avoided a potential FA Cup upset to advance to the next round while also giving Harry Kane a rare night off.
Player of the Match – Son Heung-min
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