TOTTENHAM winger Gareth Bale admits they face daunting FA Cup semi-final opposition in Chelsea after his late goal helped vanquish stubborn Bolton last night and set up an all-London date at Wembley.
In a match rearranged after the original was abandoned due to Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba’s on-field cardiac arrest, Spurs were kept at bay only by Adam Bogdan’s brilliant goalkeeping.
But the home side’s pressure finally told in a frantic closing 13 minutes, when goals from defender Ryan Nelsen, Bale and Louis Saha outweighed Kevin Davies’ stoppage-time consolation strike.
It means Tottenham will face capital rivals Chelsea, against whom they dominated but could not beat on Saturday at Stamford Bridge, in a blockbuster last-four date – and Bale is cautiously optimistic.
“We’ve got difficult opposition with Chelsea but we’ll give it a good go,” said the Wales star. “We probably deserved to win on that day [last weekend], we had the best chances but we were unable to take them. We’ll give it our best shot.”
Spurs manager Harry Redknapp was delighted to witness his side’s return to form, following a slump during which their solitary win in seven games had come against League One Stevenage.
“We played ever so well tonight,” he said. “We dominated the game but couldn’t get the goal, it took a long time for it to come, their keeper was amazing.”
Bolton manager Owen Coyle admitted to mixed emotions on his return to the scene of Muamba’s collapse, with the player still in a London hospital recovering from his life-threatening ordeal.
“Football-wise they kept going,” he said of his team. “We played in the manner befitting. It was disappointing to lose but we cannot argue Tottenham were better.”
Bogdan kept Spurs out until the 77th minute, when he misjudged Rafael van der Vaart’s corner and Nelsen headed his first goal for the club.
Bale stroked a second just three minutes later and, after Davies (left) gave Bolton, who sported T-shirts in support of Muamba, late hope, Tottenham substitute Louis Saha crashed home a long-range third.
EVERTON set up a Merseyside derby FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool with a 2-0 victory at Sunderland in last night’s quarter-final replay.
Striker Nikica Jelavic gave the visitors a first-half lead and a spectacular own goal after the break by David Vaughan, who unwittingly swept a parried Jelavic shot into the Black Cats’ open net, made the result safe.
The Toffees will face Liverpool at Wembley on Saturday 14 April, one day before the 23rd anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.