|STOKE CITY 1 (0)
|TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (1)
|Date : – 23rd December 2020
|Kick off : – 17.30
|Competition : – League Cup quarter final
|Venue : – Bet365 Stadium
|Crowd : – 0,000
|Referee : – Darren England (Sheffield)
|Linesmen : – Mr. Neil Davies; Mr. James Mainwaring
|Fourth official : – Michael Oliver
|Weather : – Cold, wet, windy
|Spurs kicked off the first half attacking the Bootham end
|Playing time : – 90 + 8 minutes
|Thompson 53m 47s
|Bale 21m 34s
|Davies 69m 58s
|Kane 80m 44s
|Collins (foul on Dele) 30
|Hugo LLORIS (c)
|Hugo LLORIS (c)
|Danny BATTH (c)
|Morgan FOX ( 21. Steven FLETCHER 34)
|Gareth BALE ( 7. Heung-Min SON 46)
|Tashan OAKLEY-BOOTHE ( 9. Sam VOKES 79)
|DELE Alli ( 11. Erik LAMELA 66)
|Lucas MOURA ( 17. Moussa SISSOKO 66)
|Jacob BROWN ( 21. Nick POWELL 71)
|Blondy NNA NOUKEU
|Manager : – Michael O’Neill
|Manager : – Jose Mourinho
|Kit Supplier : – Macron
|Kit Supplier : – Nike
|Shirt Sponsor : – Bet365
|Shirt Sponsor : – AIA
|Colours : –
|Colours : –
|Images of kits courtesy of the marvellous Colours of Football website
Spurs progressed through to the League Cup semi-final with relative ease against a defensive Stoke City side, who went down 3-1. It was a good victory, slightly disrupted when Stoke decided to go forward and score with their first shot on target.
A wet and windy night in Stoke ? You bet.
A tough place to go to ? Well, not so much these days on this showing.
Spurs arrived with the usual changes, but a stronger side, as the media tell us that Jose Mourinho takes this competition seriously. Well more than Arsenal do with their third choice goalkeeper throwing one in yesterday !
Two early crosses into the Stoke area saw stand-in keeper Andy Lonergan flap at them and that might have informed Tottenham’s way to goal. Meanwhile Stoke’s tactics seemed to be get around the Spurs player on the ball and when they got possession, hit it forward early. The pressure on the ball was causing Spurs to play it up in the air quickly, as there was no time to settle.
The first shot came in the 12th minute, when Kane spread the ball right for Doherty to back-heel the ball behind him for Hojbjerg, but his shot rose above the bar and into the empty home end. In the next minute, Doherty played Kane in on the right side of the area and his instant shot tested Lonergan, who reacted with a palm away at his near post.
Stoke were quickly getting at least nine men back behind the ball when Tottenham had it, with five at the back and four protecting them and denying space in front of their penalty area. Spurs had worked the ball from the back from left to right and it ended up with Winks 25 yards out inside from the left wing. His ball in might have been meant for Doherty, making a run into the right side of the box, but it found Gareth Bale just ahead of the penalty spot and he glanced it off his head and wide of Lonergan’s left hand to score. It was a patient build-up and even with the massed ranks of red and white striped shirts in defence, some poor marking allowed Bale the time to deftly guide the ball in with 21 minutes gone.
After the goal, Stoke started to stand off and allow Spurs a little more time on the ball. This didn’t help them, as Dele twice nut-megged Tommy Smith in the same move and his intended through ball that would have sent Kane clear was just cut out by Souttar. A foul gave the home side a chance to put into practice a clever free-kick, but it was too clever for their players and the ball harmlessly went off for a goal-kick. Tottenham won a corner and Lonergan again got under it and Dele was just beaten to the ball at the far post.
Collins got booked for pulling back Dele and at the same time, Morgan Fox was on the floor, having pulled something and he had to limp off. He was replaced by veteran striker Steven Fletcher, causing a restructure of the Potters team. It allowed Spurs to capitalise, with Kane slipping in Dele, who tried to slip the ball across the keeper as he ran to the left, but Lonergan stuck a foot out to block it. Kane was put through by Bale on the right after Hojbjerg won the ball in midfield and spread it right, but Harry was juts offside and Lonergan smothered his shot anyway. A long Stoke ball forward found Tashan Oakley-Boothe forgetting that he didn’t play for Spurs, as Sanchez won a header and Tash took out Jacob Brown, his own striker !
Bale’s long diagonal ball to Lucas Moura on the left set up an opportunity for Dele. The Brazilian nodded the ball back to Alli and he stepped right to try to curl the ball around Collins, but Lonergan got down to his left to push it wide for a corner. Hojbjerg’s run was crudely stopped by Jordan Thompson and Bale had the chance to shoot at goal from the free-kick, but only hit the wall to end the half.
The second half started with Heung-Min Son replacing Gareth Bale and Stoke having to seek an equaliser at least or they would slink out of the competition tamely. Spurs were looking to wrap the game up and Kane played a ball into the box left-footed from the right and his 30-yard pass was inches too long for Dele’s run into the area. Immediately afterwards, Moura went down in the box, but referee Darren England wasn’t interested.
Whether it was the wind or the rain or both, the ball seemed very difficult to control by both sets of players. The wind was certainly affecting things, as Stoke’s clearances were catching Dier under the ball, allowing the ball to be retained by the home side.
Brown ran up the right and a ball across the box was left by Doherty and Thompson came in behind him to strike low past Lloris at his near post with his left foot. They had looked a little more determined, but up to that point hadn’t really caused any problems, so the defending needed to be more alert, as it was a simple one for Stoke to score from.
Spurs had a three-on-three until Dele held onto it too long and Stoke broke, with good tracking back by Winks preventing McClean’s burst up their left causing any danger. The referee who had a good game for an hour, started to let petty fouls go unpunished and the pitch was cutting up making it difficult to run with the ball. That made it a surprising decision to bring on Erik Lamela, whose main ability is to run at players with the ball. Sissoko also came on, with Moura and Dele the ones leaving the field.
An innocuous throw on the right wing found Lamela, who hooked the ball infield to Winks. He played it in to Kane, who laid it back for Davies to drive low left footed across Lonergan and in off the post to restore the lead. The shot skidded off the wet turf and was going away from the keeper’s dive to his left, so he couldn’t reach it. The goal was scored at an important time, when Spurs were looking to get on top without really achieving that.
When Souttar tried to be clever with the ball and try to dribble around Kane, he lost out and the ball was played through to Son, who went on to dink it over the keeper to score, only for a flag from the linesman rule it out … wrongly. With no VAR, there was no review and Spurs remained the one goal ahead and the slim lead is always a precarious one. Lamela’s introduction had actually helped Spurs hold the ball and he won a corner with ten minutes left with a good run and recovery when he had been tackled. The pressure he and the other forwards were putting on the Stoke defenders paid off when Collins played the ball to Thompson, who let it run to Sissoko. His first-time pass put Harry Kane in against Souttar and he simply took a touch that sold the defender before rifling it into the roof of the net to extend the lead. It was another masterpiece of finishing and another goal for Kane against Stoke – making it ten in all – with ten minutes remaining.
A flare-up between ex-Manchester United failure Powell and Lamela enlivened a dull period after the third goal and a free-kick that caused it ended up producing a free header for Fletcher, but he couldn’t put it on target. Batth then got onto the end of a long forward ball from Souttar, but his header, which was intended to loop over Hugo, only dropped into the keeper’s arms. With a couple of minutes left, Stoke had given up. They weren’t closing, tackling or looking interested. A straight ball forward for Son to run onto saw him play it to Kane, but his shot was blocked as he cut inside from just right of a central position inside the edge of the box.
Long, high balls into the area were Stoke’s way of attempting to force a grandstand finish, but it was only Vokes’ shot from the left that Hugo got down to and behind to save that came anywhere near.
The way to the semi-final was straightforward after the opening goal. Stoke were pretty ineffective in the first half and although they stepped up their game in the second, their goal didn’t really push them on. Davies’ strike almost sealed the passage through, but Kane wrapped it up and there was no coming back from that. The Championship side are sitting just outside the play-off places at the moment and what that says about that division, you can make your own minds up.
The draw pitched Spurs in with Brentford at home in the semi, with the Bees providing stiffer opposition, but it leaves the team just two games away from the long awaited trophy. We’ve been here before. Let’s hope it’s different this time.
Jordan Thompson scores his first Stoke City goal.