Tottenham are into the Carabao Cup 4th round after a penalty-shootout victory over Watford at the Stadium MK last night.
Isaac Success gave Watford the lead before two goals in quick succession by Dele Alli and Erik Lamela.
A late Etienne Capoue goal sent the tie to penalties and Paulo Gazzaniga was the hero as Spurs ran out 4-2 winners.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side will be optimistic again ahead of Saturday’s 4th round draw following improved results.
As expected, only three Spurs players kept their places from the Brighton win as Gazzaniga started. Toby Alderweireld and Lucas Moura were the other two. Serge Aurier, Davinson Sanchez and Ben Davies all came back into the back-four. The midfield was fully altered, as Harry Winks, Victor Wanyama, Moussa Sissoko, Alli and Lamela came in. Lucas was selected up front ahead of Fernando Llorente.
In a similar pattern to what has happened previously with Spurs this season, chances were at a premium in the first half. Aurier impressed in the opening period. However, the start of the second allowed the visitors to take the lead. Success powered into the penalty area after latching on to a pass from Kiko Femenia, outmuscled Aurier, and drilled the ball in.
Spurs gradually began to assert their authority on the match, and made three substitutions, as Dembele, Son and Llorente came on. Chances for Spurs included an Alli volley and a Llorente header from close range, but both were off target. Sema Ken also missed with an air-shot at the other end. After Son’s effort was cleared off the line, Tottenham were then awarded a penalty. Lamela picked up the ball centrally, drove through and picked out Alli towards the right of the penalty area. The Englishman was fouled following a risky tackle from Christian Kabasele, and the referee Lee Mason gave Tottenham a controversial route back into the game. The Belgian was also sent off to add further insult to injury. The match was levelled personnel wise, as Aurier went off following a quadriceps injury.
On an emotional homecoming for Alli, following his first return to Stadium MK following his move in 2015, he stepped up himself. Former Spurs goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes guessed correctly, but Alli’s low penalty went into the bottom left corner.
Tottenham thought that they had successfully completed the turnaround, as they added a second with a stunning counter-attacking goal. Lamela and Winks began the move, as the Englishman used Dembele out wide on the right. The Belgian played an early ball towards Lamela in the area with his right foot, and he dinked the ball over Gomes into the bottom right corner with skill and precision. Three goals in four games is a real statement of intent, and his terrific form is showing no signs of slowing down.
However, Tottenham were denied as Watford scored late against them again. Adrian Mariappa teed up Capoue, and his shot deflected off Davies to deceive Gazzaniga, and was able to send the tie to penalties.
Tottenham were clinical in the shootout and were finally able to secure the win. Success and Son scored the opening spot-kicks with ease, but Capoue missed his. His effort was easy for Gazzaniga to grab and hold, and Spurs were in the ascendancy. Lamela, Will Hughes and Llorente scored, but Domingos Quina took one in a similar area to Capoue, and with the same result. Although it was a better save from Gazzaniga, who was proving to be a capable back-up ahead of Michel Vorm. Typically, Alli was given the chance to win the game, and he put his penalty in the same place as his earlier one, and Gomes couldn’t get a strong enough hand on it. The victory was Spurs’ second successive shootout win, the other being the Capital One Cup win over Hull City in 2013. That ended the winless run of six consecutive shoot-out failures that dated back to 2004.
Watford can now focus solely on maintaining their incredible Premier League form, and travel to the Emirates on Saturday.
Tottenham followed up their win at Brighton on Saturday with another ‘victory,’ and despite still not being back at their best, they are getting results again. A win against Huddersfield on Saturday will create the momentum needed ahead of the Barcelona fixture, and fans can look forward to it again.
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