A penalty in the first half from Harry Kane was enough to give Spurs the advantage in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final versus Chelsea at Wembley. It was a strongly fought contest between the two teams and both had key chances to score goals, but Spurs can be pleased with the grit and resilience they showed in the second half to keep out the Blues and go into the second leg a goal to the good.
Mauricio Pochettino named a strong Spurs starting lineup, with Harry Kane and Heung-min Son starting in attack in front of a midfield containing Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli. Whereas for Chelsea, Maurizio Sarri played Eden Hazard as his most advanced player and gave eighteen year old Callum Hudson-Odoi a start on the wing.
The first chance of the game for Spurs was a spectacular effort from Harry Kane. Following a cross from Kieran Trippier that was slightly behind him, Kane made an acrobatic effort on goal but his overhead kick was saved comfortably by Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga diving to his right.
Soon after, teenager Hudson-Odoi had a try which stung the fingertips of Paulo Gazzaniga, who was starting for the second match in a row for Spurs as the first choice goalkeeper in domestic cup competitions. Eden Hazard then later had a shot from outside the area that was once again straight at Gazzaniga as Chelsea looked to force the initiative and score the vital away goal at Wembley.
However it was Spurs who opened the scoring in the most unusual of circumstances. Toby Alderweireld’s ball over the top was latched onto by Kane who was fouled by Kepa after he took the ball past him. The original decision was given as offside but referee Michael Oliver consulted VAR as to whether Kane was offside or not. The Spurs man had timed his run to perfection and so Kepa’s foul was punished. After long deliberation from the VAR officials, Spurs were awarded the penalty and Kepa yellow carded.
— B/R Football (@brfootball) January 9, 2019
Kane Scores Courtesy of VAR
Kane confidently stepped up and fired his penalty into the corner. Goalkeeper Kepa dived late so must have thought Kane would go down the middle, so as soon as he could react the ball was past him to give Spurs the advantage at Wembley.
Chelsea still came forward at Spurs in the first half with N’golo Kante twice having efforts that came close. The first was saved from Gazzaniga and the next one was a delicate touch from a Marcos Alonso cross that nearly crept in at the near corner but clipped the outside of the post.
However the best chance for Chelsea came with virtually the last kick of the half. Callum Hudson-Odoi, who looks like a very promising prospect for the Blues, put in what was meant to be a cross but instead he had Paulo Gazzaniga back pedalling as his cross was on target and going in. The Argentine stopper managed to get something on it and divert it onto the post to keep Spurs one goal ahead going into the half time break.
Chelsea upped the tempo in the next period but Spurs remained resilient and worked incredibly hard to maintain their lead. Eden Hazard tried his best to make something happen for Chelsea but Spurs as a team did well to keep him as quiet as they could.
It was actually Spurs who had the first real chance of the second half, yet again from Kane. It came after a flowing team move down the right, involving some quick, one-touch passing from Dele Alli and Moussa Sissoko before Kane picked up the ball on the edge of the area. With little back lift, the Spurs striker fizzed in a shot at Kepa, which forced him to make a diving save to his right. The shot from Kane was not going right into the corner but was hit with such venom that it caused Kepa to scramble quickly to make a good, yet expected, save.
After Spurs had nearly doubled the lead through that chance, the momentum of the match started to swing in favour of the Blues. Once again they had some shots from outside the area from Hazard and Kante which forced Gazzaniga into saves. Kante’s effort forced a corner from which Chelsea should have equalised.
The corner kick was flicked on by Ross Barkley and arrived at the feet of an unmarked Andreas Christensen at the back post. The Danish centre back, unfortunately for Chelsea, was unable to sort his feet out and so could only divert the ball wide when it seemed like he would level things, given the amount of space he had been left in by the Spurs defence.
A hard-fought victory. 💪
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) January 9, 2019
Pedro, Mateo Kovacic and Olivier Giroud were all introduced by Maurizio Sarri who looked to find a way for his team to pick up a draw, which would have suited them going into the next leg at Stamford Bridge. However it was not to be, as Spurs defended with discipline and were backed up by a solid Gazzaniga, who again had an impressive game for Spurs.
Pochettino and Sarri embraced at the halftime whistle, with both still believing that they can go through to the final ahead of the second leg. Spurs can be pleased with the way in which they won the game, as they were not at their best but their mentality to work hard all the way to the end, installed by their manager, meant that they got the win and a clean sheet in the first leg.
All eyes will be on the two teams when they meet in the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg at Stamford Bridge in just over two weeks’ time.
Spurs v Chelsea Carabao Cup Teams
What the Managers Said
Spurs Manager Mauricio Pochettino
“I think we were very competitive tonight. I am so pleased. We played against one of the best teams in England and in Europe, a team that have been building to win titles. They have unbelievable players. I think to win this type of game is an amazing, huge experience for us, to be more mature. Of course it’s only half-time, it’s a small advantage 1-0, but we need to be competitive in the second leg. Of course to give the credit to Chelsea. They pushed a lot in the second half and made us play a little bit deeper. But of course very happy because we were competitive and in the end we won the game.” (football.london)
Chelsea Manager Maurizio Sarri
“A few minutes ago I watched the video from our camera. It was offside. Our camera was in line with Harry Kane. Offside with the head, the knee. Offside. It was really important the linesman carried on running, he had a big impact on our defenders.”
“I don’t think English referees are able to use the system. If you are not sure with the system, as a player you have to follow the ball and at the end of the action decide. But the linesman stopped and didn’t follow the ball – for our defenders it was offside. I don’t know about the goalkeeper but sure the defenders were affected.
“I think they have to study the system.It’s very strange in the Premier League there isn’t VAR and in the Carabao Cup there is the system. It’s very strange for us, the players and referees.” (skysports)
Spurs v Chelsea Carabao Cup Man of the Match
— Alderweireld Toby (@AlderweireldTob) January 9, 2019
Toby Alderweireld was the most impressive Spurs player in a team that defended well collectively. The Belgian seemed to be everywhere and made a number vital blocks and interceptions, especially from a Chelsea corner in the dying moments of the match. Spurs will be hoping that no suitors match his £25m release clause that is now in place following the one year extension of his contract.
What’s Up Next for Spurs?
Next up for Mauricio Pochettino and his team in another crunch match at Wembley Stadium as in-form Manchester United come to town under the stewardship of former player Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Spurs then have a full seven day break between that and their next Premier League match away to Fulham. It will be the first time that they have not played a midweek fixture since the November international break.
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