Leeds punish Spurs to progress
Tottenham Hotspur paid for failing to take their chances as they were dumped out of the FA Cup in a 2-1 fourth-round loss at Championship club Leeds United on Sunday.
Andre Villas-Boas' side lacked a cutting edge as eight-time cup winners Spurs were unable to pull back a two-goal deficit established early in the second half by their second-tier hosts.
Clint Dempsey reduced the arrears shortly before the hour mark, but by that point the visitors were up against it thanks to goals at the start of each half from Luke Varney and Ross McCormack.
Leeds were brushed aside 5-1 by Chelsea in the League Cup in December, despite taking the lead.
But there was to be no unwanted repeat for a club still striving for a return to the top flight nine years after their relegation from the Premier League.
They progressed to the last 16 despite leaving out Luciano Becchio in the wake of their 19-goal top scorer submitting a transfer request.
In fact, it was Tottenham who were more hampered by the absence of their high-profile forwards, as the hosts took the lead against the run of play in the 15th minute.
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 give Varney 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 for his first goal since the opening day of the season in August.
Only a fine block from Friedel at the feet of McCormack at the end of the first half denied Leeds a potentially pivotal second goal before halftime.
All the other clear chances were carved out by the Premier League side, who sit 27 places above their mid-table Championship hosts.
Without Emmanuel Adebayor, who is on Africa Cup of Nations duty with Togo, and the injured Jermain Defoe, Tottenham lacked a sustained threat as Gylfi Sigurdsson and Dempsey both wasted early headed openings.
Dempsey was guilty of a tame finish when, with the outside of his right foot after good approach play from Scott Parker and Aaron Lennon, the United States international shot straight at Jamie Ashdown.
The Leeds goalkeeper then blocked well at the near post to deny Gareth Bale after the Wales international skipped past two defenders to surge into the area.
Parker was unable to keep the rebound on target, although shortly afterwards, Sigurdsson found his range from long distance to force Ashdown to save low to his right.
McCormack soon made amends for his first-half miss, grabbing Leeds' second with his fifth domestic goal of the season five minutes after the re-start.
The Scotland forward exchanged passes with Diouf and raced 30 yards into the area before cutting inside Steven Caulker to fire a powerful shot into the top-left corner.
Dempsey quickly halved the deficit, with his fifth goal in as many games, finding the far corner with a close-range looping header from Bale's centre in the 58th minute.
In a breathless encounter, Leeds refused to sit back on their advantage, and McCormack should have restored his side's two-goal lead inside the last 20 minutes in similar circumstances to his first.
The former Rangers striker again got the better of Tottenham's abortive efforts to play offside, only to have his close-range effort blocked by Friedel.
Tottenham enjoyed the lion's share of possession in a frenetic finale, but John Obika saw a late chance blocked as Spurs became Leeds' third top-flight scalp of the campaign in the wake of League Cup victories over Everton and Southampton.