Webster targeting more medals
Tottenham squeezed through to the UEFA Europa League
quarter-finals thanks to the away goals rule despite a 4-1
extra-time defeat at the hands of Inter Milan at the San Siro.
The Serie A giants wiped out the Londoners’ 3-0 advantage from
the first leg with goals from Antonio Cassano, Rodrigo Palacio and
an own-goal from William Gallas.
Emmanuel Adebayor scored in the 96th, only for Ricardo Alvarez
to give the Italians hope again in the second period of extra-time,
but Andre Villas-Boas’ side held on to advance.
The match action was a thrilling advert for the often-derided
competition, but the night was tarnished by racist abuse from the
home fans towards Adebayor.
Inter started like a team possessed. Cassano beat Brad Friedel
at the third time of asking after two earlier strikes. The
30-year-old got on the end of a Palacio cross after Jonathan cut
out Kyle Naughton and headed home from six yards.
Tottenham held back the tide before the interval, but soon after
the restart Cassano found Palacio with a through-ball and he curled
a shot beyond Friedel to make it 2-0.
Inter’s quest to find a third looked set for failure until they
won a free-kick 25 yards out with 15 minutes to go. Cassano struck
the wall with a powerful low effort but it squirmed through and
Gallas stuck out a leg and poked the ball past an off-balance
Villas-Boas gathered his team together after the referee
signalled the end of the normal 90 minutes and Tottenham seemed
reinvigorated by the talk from their manager. Handanovic saved well
from Aaron Lennon and Jan Vertonghen, while Gallas headed wide
unmarked from eight yards.
Adebayor did not miss the target moments later, however,
stabbing past Handanovic after the Inter goalkeeper spilled Mousa
The 2,000 travelling fans erupted in ecstasy, but they were back
biting their finger nails again in the 110th minute when Ricardo
Alvarez nodded home from Cassano’s cross to make it 4-4 on
The away goal meant Tottenham remained on course to go through,
and despite late attempts from the home side Villas-Boas’ team held
on to enter the hat for the quarter-finals.
Webster won the Scottish Cup with Dundee United in 2010 before
repeating the feat with Hearts last year and will lead the
Edinburgh side out against St Mirren on Sunday in the absence of
injured captain Marius Zaliukas.
The 30-year-old, who was at Hampden to promote the final, said:
“Once you have finished your career you can look back and sit down
and look at what has been and what could have been.
“But it’s like anything, the more you experience it the more you
want it, and Sunday is another opportunity for us to win.
“We had a great experience here last year with the Scottish Cup
so it’s something we will be looking to replicate on Sunday.
“Hopefully it stands you in good stead. There is a bit of
“A few of us have been here before and know what to expect so
hopefully that experience comes through on Sunday.”
Webster’s cup success came after some frustrating times earlier
in his career.
The Scotland defender missed Hearts’ 2006 Scottish Cup final win
after being sidelined by club owner Vladimir Romanov when he
declined a new contract offer.
A protracted move to Rangers followed and Webster would no doubt
have anticipated the chance to win silverware.
But the centre-back made only three first-team appearances in
light blue, only to find success at Tannadice and Tynecastle.
“You take these things as they come,” Webster said. “I always
have to look at it in a positive manner.
“It’s great to win football trophies and this is another
While Hearts have won three Scottish Cups in the last 15 years,
League Cup success has eluded them since 1963.
Webster said: “It’s been 50 years and you look at some of the
Hearts sides of the past. So it’s a great opportunity for us to
make a little bit of history.”