CAPITAL ONE CUP
SEMI-FINAL (2nd leg)
SHEFFIELD UNITED 2 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (1)
(Spurs won 3-2 on aggregate)
Sheffield Utd scorer:-
Adams, 77, 79
Eriksen, 28, 88
Referee:- Mike Dean
Assistants:- Jake Collin and Michael McDonough
Fourth Official:- Mike Jones
Sheffield Utd (4-2-3-1):- Howard; Flynn, Basham, McEveley, Harris; Doyle (Capt.) (sub Reed, 65), Baxter; Campbell-Ryce (sub Adams, 74), Scougall, Murphy; McNulty (sub Higdon, 74)
Subs not used:- Turner; Alcock, Kennedy; Wallace
Booked:- Doyle (foul on Mason), Flynn (foul on Dembele), Basham (foul on Vorm)
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Vorm; Walker, Dier, Vertonghen (Capt.), Davies; Mason (sub Rose, 90), Stambouli; Lamela (sub Townsend, 74), Dembele (sub Paulinho, 66), Eriksen; Kane
Subs not used:- Friedel; Fazio; Soldado, Adebayor
Booked:- Walker (foul on Murphy), Mason (foul on Scougall), Dembele (foul on Murphy)
Christian soldiers onward
Two goals by Christian Eriksen were enough to carry Spurs through to their third Wembley League Cup Final in seven years, but having taken a 2-0 aggregate lead after his first half goal, 18 year old substitute Che Adams scored two goals in two minutes to make it a nervous finish for Spurs. Extra-time loomed, and had the scores remained the same, Spurs would have gone through on away goals, but Eriksen sealed our passage with a fine second goal, after Harry Kane’s pass. Spurs are on their way to Wembley for a re-match of the 2008 Final against Chelsea.
It was a cold, damp, windy night in Sheffield, with flurries of snow falling at times during the game. The snow wasn’t settling though. There was virtually a full house of over 30,000, most of whom were hoping for the hosts to go through. However, the Spurs fans packed the Jessica Ennis Stand (upper and lower tiers), and cheered their team on relentlessly, with only a pause after Adams’ two goals.
Mauricio Pochettino made only two changes to the team which faced United in the home leg, reverting to the usual 4-2-3-1, with Dembele playing the central attacking midfield role, and Lamela playing on the right. Harry Kane was the lone striker, with Eriksen nominally on the left, but granted a little more freedom.
Spurs had an early scare after Campbell-Ryce crossed and Scougall fed the ball to Murphy, after Vorm fumbled the cross. Murphy’s shot was blocked by the Spurs defence. That was the last real scare from the home team for a considerable time. Eriksen and Lamela acted as providers for Harry Kane, whose right footed effort was held by Howard. Vertonghen sent a good long ball to Kyle walker down the right flank. Walker did well going forward, and passed inside for Dembele, whose shot was off target.
I thought that Dembele had his best game for ages for Tottenham, clearly relishing the attacking midfield role. Stambouli fed Kane, whose right footed effort passed outside the post, and Dembele sent a neat ball to Lamela, but he was offside. Dembele then fed a ball to Lamela, who was closed down, with the ball running to Ryan Mason. Howard took two touches to get control over the shot. Another Dembele pass took a deflection, but ran to Kane on the left of centre, but his shot passed just wide.
Spurs took a lead which was justified on the run of play, after Stambouli was fouled and Eriksen took the free kick from the right hand side. Eriksen’s right foot shot was perfectly placed and rebounded off the goalie’s right post back into the goal. Things were looking good for Spurs.
Kane had another effort saved, this time with the left foot. Dembele worked ever so hard to retain the ball, and feed it to Mason, whose shot was held. At last United had another genuine effort, when Scougall hit a right foot shot wide across the goal.
Just after the resumption of play, Dembele went on a great run, which had started on the left flank. He came inside and ended up feeding Kane, whose shot was pulled wide. Lamela teed up Mason, whose right footed effort was well saved by the United keeper. Dembele was perhaps surprisingly replaced early by Paulinho, and Mason took on the advanced midfield role. Ryan had a couple of good chances, but just over-ran the ball at the vital moment.
A Spurs free kick taken by Kane was comfortable held by Howard, moving to his right. One of those Mason chances came after more good work by Lamela.
With just over 15 minutes remaining, Lamela was replaced by Townsend, and Nigel Clough made a double substitution, with Adams one of the two players to come on. In no time at all, Adams had put the home side level on the night, but still one down on aggregate. The ball was crossed by Flynn from the right, and Adams fired home from beyond the far post. When Adams was allowed to repeat the trick, this time with a deflected shot after Murphy’s cross from the bye-line, the home crowd went wild, and sniffed blood. Spurs were on the rack, and revealing their soft underbelly.
There was a fright for Spurs as Reed’s effort from the right went over the bar, but all was well with two minutes to go, when Harry Kane put Eriksen through with a great ball, and Eriksen coolly placed his shot inside the goalkeeper’s left post in front of the ecstatic Spurs fans, who could once again start signing about Wembley.
There were four minutes of added time to be negotiated, which were extended, because Michel Vorm was felled by Basham, who got a booking for his trouble. The game was up though for plucky Sheffield United, who do still have an interest in the FA Cup, and could host Manchester United, if they beat Preston next week in their fourth round replay.
Spurs will need to be more resilient and more penetrative on Saturday at The Hawthorns against West Bromwich Albion.
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