Few things are quite as iconic in domestic cup football than watching a dramatic penalty shootout upset, with a goalkeeper saving multiple spot kicks to lead his side to victory. That was just what the country watched on a brisk Wednesday night when Norwich’s Tim Krul denied both Troy Parrott and Gedson Fernandes to claim a surprise FA Cup victory for the Canaries.
Having been expected to be brushed aside by Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham side, Norwich turned up the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium determined not to be dragged down by their struggles in the Premier League this season, currently rooted to the foot of the table and fighting tooth and nail to try and save themselves.
Still four points adrift of even the nearest side, and six from safety, relegation is looking likely come the season’s end, so the cup represented an opportunity for Daniel Farke’s men to give their supporters something to celebrate.
As such, seeing Jan Vertonghen open the scoring for the home side after just 13 minutes will have been a firm kick to the confidence. For many of their hardened supporters, this match will have immediately looked set to be another written off as a defeat.
After all, in front of a home crowd and with a Quarter Final spot on the line in the FA Cup, surely Tottenham would just turn up through the gears from here on out and see off Norwich, no matter how spirited of a performance the downtrodden side could muster?
Yet, Spurs failed to do so. Instead, they pushed but simply couldn’t find the necessary killer final ball, or clinical eye in front of the target, as has been their problem so often this season. Mourinho has watched many times this season from the sidelines as his side struggle to kill off games with that necessary extra goal, extenuated by their challenges with injuries to their traditional forwards.
Norwich took perfect advantage of that inability to get a vital second goal, with forward Josip Drmic equalising for the Canaries in the 78th minute. Suddenly Norwich had something to fight and hold on for once more.
Determined, resilient defending saw them through to extra time, and after another period of sustained pressure but little to truly trouble Krul in the Norwich goal, the two sides heard the final whistle and were destined to line up and test their nerves.
Krul has history as a good penalty shootout goalkeeper, for both club and country, and was up to his usual tricks as he prepared. Making himself as big as possible prior to each kick, he was also aided by a clearly written list of each Tottenham penalty taker’s preferred area on a water bottle.
Gamesmanship or unfair aids, Krul wasn’t bothered as he dared the Spurs players to rise to his challenge and change up their regular approaches to beat him. Two couldn’t and after his outfield teammates did their duties diligently, the Dutchman could celebrate with his teammates a memorable cup victory.