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Spurs v Watford – Carabao Cup Review

Dele Alli marked his MK Dons homecoming by scoring the winning penalty as Spurs beat Watford in the third round of the Carabao Cup.

The first half was poor with both sides struggling to get a shot on goal. The closest Spurs came was midway through the half when Lucas Moura’s ball across goal was just out of reach for the oncoming Alli.

The Spurs and England midfielder scored 20 goals for his boyhood club MK Dons before joining Spurs in 2015 and was playing in Milton Keynes for the first time since his move.

Straight after the second half Isaac Success opened the scoring for Watford. The Nigerian striker, who we picked out as a danger man in our match preview, latched onto a through ball from Kiko Femenia before rifling past Paulo Gazzaniga in the Spurs goal.

Spurs’ equaliser came late on after 82 minutes. Erik Lamela’s reverse pass into Dele Alli put the Spurs captain for the night in on goal with Christian Kabasele pursuing him. The Watford defender, brought on by Javi Gracia to see the game out, tripped Alli and conceded a penalty.

Because Alli had a clear goalscoring opportunity Kabasele was sent off for his challenge. To compile the misery for Watford, Alli comfortably dispatched the penalty past Heurelho Gomes’ to level things up.

Dele Alli stars on return to MK Dons

It was all on Spurs to chase the winner having the man advantage but that advantage was halted when Serge Aurier could no longer play a part because of injury. As Mauricio Pochettino had made his 3 substitutions by that point, Spurs were also down to 10 men.

However the goal they were pushing for came with four minutes to go. Erik Lamela found Harry Winks who did brilliantly to get the ball out of his feet and find a marauding Mousa Dembele on the right wing.

His perfectly weighted pass was poked home by Lamela, who had continued his run from the edge of his own area after starting the attack. The replays showed just how good his finish was as his delicate touch was enough to take Gomes out of the game and had enough power on it to reach the goal. It was Lamela’s third goal in his last four games in all competitions.

Spurs thought that they had claimed the winner but there was still a late twist in the tale. Success was released down the left hand side and drove into the Spurs penalty area. His pass found Adrian Marriapa who then teed up former Spurs player Etienne Capoue. The Frenchman’s strike was heading wide but took a deflection off Ben Davies to wrong foot Gazzaniga and send the encounter to a penalty shootout.

Gazzaniga the Hero in Penalty Shootout

Son Heung-min, Erik Lamela and Fernando Llorente all scored Spurs’ opening 3 penalties whereas Success and Will Hughes converted for Watford.

Etienne Capoue’s penalty was saved by Gazzaniga to put Spurs in the ascendancy and Domingos Quina’s penalty was at a comfortable height for the Spurs keeper. His two penalty saves set the game up for Dele Alli to win it for Spurs.

Alli stepped up to take the penalty that would send Spurs through to the next round. It was almost a carbon copy of the penalty he took to level the match in the second half. Again it was low to Gomes’ right and the former Spurs keeper again got a hand on the shot but it was not strong enough to keep it out.

Alli and his Spurs teammates congratulated Gazzaniga at the end as the Argentinian shot stopper’s two saved penalties sent Spurs through to the next round.

The draw for the next round of the Carabao Cup is on Saturday 29th September at 9pm.

What the Managers Said

Mauricio Pochettino

On the Game:

“We are so happy for the fans and the players because we go through and now we wait for the draw for the next round. Maybe it wasn’t a great performance but the team fought and I think the personality we showed at the end taking the penalties and winning the game is a fantastic signal for us.

There are periods in football where all is against you and we are suffering in the last few games a lot of negative things. The most important thing is to keep working, keep pushing, keep being strong and maybe we deserved to win the game 2-1 after the second half but I think it was good, the character, and it’s a positive result.” (Tottenham Hotspur Official)

On Alli:

“I gave him the armband because it was so exciting for him to play here in his home town. It is difficult for him to have another possibility to play here again and I wanted to provide him a very good feeling. I hope he appreciates a lot my gesture.

He was inspired by the occasion. To play here he was so excited. The energy in the previous day was amazing.” (BBC Sport)

Javi Gracia

“We played really well but there were some decisions that were hard to accept. What I saw was Dele Alli and Christian Kabasele fighting for the ball and they both went to the ground. The penalty is one thing but I cannot understand the red card. With every game we play I’m more proud of my players, they have performed very well.” (BBC Sport)

Spurs v Watford Carabao Cup Lineups

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Man of the Match

Erik Lamela was once again the best player for Spurs and is really starting to show the kind of performances expected from him when he signed from Roma. Both his assist and goal demonstrated his technical ability. His assist in particular was a brilliant piece of skill as his reverse pass completely caught out the Watford defence and sent Alli away.

As mentioned his goal was equally as good as his deft touch looked simple enough but was excellently executed to put Spurs ahead.

Serge Aurier again put in a good performance when given the chance. It will remain to be seen if the injury he picked up at the end of the tie will keep him out for long.

Spurs v Watford Carabao Cup Attendance

Stadium MK: 23,650

What’s Next for Spurs

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