Defender Jonathan Woodgate nearly justified his entire $16 million fee that Tottenham paid Middlesbrough a little over a month ago when the England international scored his side's winning goal to secure a 2-1 victory over Chelsea in the English League Cup final.
|Jonathan Woodgate turns match winner [AFP]|
The victory ended Spurs nine year wait for silverware after they last lifted the same trophy in 1999 as they had done in 1971 and 1973.
The goal came in the 3rd minute of extra time after the London clubs had been locked at 1-1 after 90 minutes.
A well timed run saw Woodgate head the ball first directly into Chelsea goalkeeper Peter Cech before placing the rebound more successfully into the net.
Chelsea had opened the scoring on 37 minutes when Didier Drogba curled a free kick past goal keeper Paul Robinson who was rooted to his spot and could only reflect as the west Londoners took an ominous 1-0 lead.
Berbatov on the spot
Juande Ramos' men then had a deserved equaliser with 20 minutes remaining when Chelsea defender Wayne Bridge was ruled to have handled the ball as it bobbled between himself and Spurs substitute Tom Huddlestone in the penalty area.
Striker Dimitar Berbatov coolly converted from the spot and while contact may have been minimal, the goal was just reward for Spurs’ positive play.
Tottenham then surged in the final twenty minutes as they became the team who looked like scoring the decisive winner.
Chelsea, who had only minutes before looked like grinding out yet another 1-0 result on their way to another League Cup, suddenly looked shell shocked with little of their usual swagger evident.
A regulation time winner nearly came when a sublime flick from Robbie Keane was complemented by a superb run from Didier Zokora as the Ivorian found himself in acres of space with only the advancing Cech to beat.
But to his frustration his first effort was parried by Cech and he was as wasteful with his refund as that was blazed over the bar.
It was perhaps fitting that the energetic performance by Spurs was punctuated at the end of regulation time with Keane attempting an audacious bicycle kick as the seconds ticked down.
After Woodgate's goal in extra time Tottenham quickly prepared for a Chelsea onslaught and it was goalkeeper Paul Robinson who justified his manager's decision to recall him by producing two fine saves to deny first Salomon Kalou and then Joe Cole to end the Blues title defence.
The final whistle was met with an ecstatic response from Spurs players on the pitch and fans in the stands as a season which promised so much, then derailed so spectacularly, finally brought some success which justified their own heavy investment in recent years.
The club's money men will also sleep soundly knowing the victory will also guarantee European football next season via the Uefa Cup.
Source: Al Jazeera