Spurs beat Chelsea to take step towards Carabao Cup final
Tottenham look to end trophy drought as they beat Chelsea at Wembley
08 January, 2019 — By Dan Carrier at Wembley
Semi Final, First Leg
SPURS 1 (Kane 26p)
A RECENT CUP record against Chelsea which makes for simply woeful reading had a little addition in the ‘goals for’ column this evening (Tuesday) as Mauricio Pochettino’s men squeezed a 1-0 victory from a hard fought game.
A Harry Kane penalty gave Spurs a slender lead in this first leg of their Caraboa Cup semi final show down – and the home side can breathe a sigh of relief after having to spend much of this game under plenty of Chelsea pressure.
It could be seen as a mature and patient performance from Tottenham: they let their visitors have much of the ball, but defended solidly – and when Maurizio Sarri’s players did get a sniff at goal, Pochettino’s deputy keeper Paulo Gazzaniga was found more than capable.
Yet the Spurs front four, so important as the first line of defence, looked like they were still shaking off Christmas and Chelsea were to register 17 attempts on goal over 90 minutes to Tottenham’s five.
The west London club have had so much Wembley joy against Spurs in recent years – winning 5-1 in an FA Cup semi final in 2012, 2-0 in the 2015 League Cup final, and then enjoying a 4-2 victory in last season’s FA Cup semi final.
Yet there was something satisfyingly solid about this Spurs display. They let Chelsea run themselves into the ground and when they had a chance, they took it.
Speaking after the game, manager Pochettino said his team had showed how much they have grown over the past two years.
He added: “This was a huge experience for us. We were very mature and now we have a small advantage. Now we have to be as competitive in the second leg. And credit to Chelsea – they pushed us and we had to play deeper. But of course I am happy. Now it is about how we can improve in the return game.”
Perhaps tellingly, he singled out his second choice goalkeeper Gazzaniga for praise.
“He was my man of the match,” he said. “He showed great quality.”
Apart from an ambitious overhead kick from Kane on five minutes, which Blues goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga saved fairly comfortably, Chelsea settled earlier and enjoyed a good spell of possession in the opening period.
But it was Spurs who took the lead on 26 minutes. Kane latched on to a long ball over the top from Toby Alderweireld. He rounded Arrizabalaga, who had dashed from his line to meet the danger, but the Chelsea keeper pulled him down.
Referee Michael Oliver asked for the incident to be reviewed by VAR to see if Kane had been onside – there was no doubt about the foul – and after a tense minutes’ wait awarded the spot kick, which Kane despatched calmly. It was his 160th goal in a Spurs shirt – a remarkable achievement for a player aged 25.
Chelsea went close in the dying seconds of the first half, when a cross by Blues rookie Callum Hudson-Odoi was deflected by Danny Rose and looped over Gazzaniga’s head. The keeper did exceptionally well to get back, tip the ball on to the post and send Spurs into the break with a preciously guarded lead.
He would prove his worth again when N’Golo Kante – who had skimmed the post in the first half – forced him into another athletic save early in the second period. At times, Spurs looked drowsy on the ball and off the pace when chasing. Their fans sensed it and tried to rouse them, reminding them it was both a London Derby and a semi final.
On 58, a cross evaded the Spurs defenders and Andreas Christensen popped up unmarked at the back post. Yet while in the recent past Spurs have created the lion’s share of chances only to see Chelsea’s savviness win them the day, the tables had turned: Christensen saw the goal at his mercy and elected to scuff his effort wide.
At around the 65 minute mark, Pochettino used a fortuitous break in play while Kane got some treatment to swap his pieces about and stiffen their resolve. Christian Eriksen went central, Dele Alli pulled to the left, and suddenly Tottenham had their metronome on the ball more. Sarri’s men had started to run out of ideas and the patience Spurs had shown paid off.
Late on, substitute Erik Lamela had a fine chance to increase the cushion but was judged to have fouled his marker as he got onto a through ball from Kane and had the goal in his sights. It was a rare opening in a game that huffed and puffed but never really sparked.
Spurs take a slender lead into the second leg, scheduled for Thursday January 24, carrying with them a cup hoodoo they are half way to burying.
SPURS: Gazzaniga, Trippier, Rose, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Son (Lamela, 78) Winks (Skipp, 88), Kane, Sissoko, Alli, Eriksen (Llorente, 90).
Subs not used: Lloris, Walker-Peters, Foyth, Davies.
CHELSEA: Arrizabalaga, Rudiger, Alonso, Jorginho, Kante, Barkley ( Kovacic, 74) Hazard, Hudson-Odoi (Giroud, 79), Willan (Pedro 62), Christensen, Azpilicueta.
Subs not used: Caballero, Zappacosta, Luiz, Ampadu.