Kane gives us first-leg advantage in semi-final
Spurs 1-0 Chelsea
Tue 08 January 2019, 22:02|Tottenham Hotspur
Harry Kane’s first-half penalty was enough to give us the win over Chelsea in the Carabao Cup semi-final, first leg and we’ll take the narrow 1-0 advantage into the return at Stamford Bridge on 24 January.
The England striker brushed aside a lengthy VAR delay as the officials checked for both an off-side decision in the build-up and whether he had been brought down by Kepa Arrizabalaga in the area – both decisions going our way – to convert the resulting penalty. It was his 160th goal in a Spurs shirt and took him to fourth place in our all-time top goalscoring list.
But it was very much backs-to-the-wall stuff in the second period as Chelsea pushed us back in search of an equaliser, although we held firm to record our third straight victory over the Blues in all competitions.
As you’d expect for a semi-final, it was a lively start with both sides fashioning chances in the opening minutes. First Kieran Trippier’s cross was met by a Kane scissor-kick on five minutes which was easy for Arrizabalaga, before Callum Hudson-Odoi stung the palms of Paulo Gazzaniga moments later. Eden Hazard then tested the Argentine from 25 yards, but it was straight at the keeper.
The opening goal came on 26 minutes after a moment of controversy which needed the VAR to sort out. Toby Alderweireld clipped a ball over the top for Kane, who beat Arrizabalaga to the ball only for the goalkeeper to upend him in the area. But then VAR was brought into play, initially to check whether Kane was on-side – which it decided he was – and then whether it was a penalty – which was also confirmed! The striker eventually stepped up to drive us into the lead from 12 yards.
We had a spell of pressure without really creating another good chance, but the Blues finished the half well. We were trying to play out from the back but Chelsea’s pressure from their front players was making life difficult and they were picking up possession and coming back at us. They didn’t carve out a chance though until 40 minutes when Willian passed inside Trippier for Marcos Alonso whose first-time cross was met by N’Golo Kante but his effort from six yards hit the outside of the post. And we were grateful to Gazzaniga two minutes into stoppage time, as he managed to claw Hudson-Odoi’s deflected cross onto the post with Alderweireld sweeping the rebound away to safety.
There was no let-up to the intensity of the game in the second period and again, chances appeared at both ends. A fine flowing move down the right on 52 minutes saw Dele Alli and Moussa Sissoko combining to find Kane who took one touch and fired goalwards from 25 yards, Arrizabalaga diving to his right to push away, while Chelsea were soon on the offensive at the other end, Gazzaniga saving long-range shots from Hazard and Kante. The visitors were enjoying a good spell and could have gone ahead on 58 minutes when Ross Barkley flicked on Hazard’s cross to the back post where Andreas Christensen was all alone, but he put wide on the stretch.
We were struggling to get any control of the game as Chelsea’ press was really causing us problems in retaining possession, however despite their dominance of the ball, they didn’t carve out any real clear-cut chances. Crosses were flashing into the area but Gazzaniga’s handling was always spot on when needed, while everyone was playing their part in preserving the lead as it was all hands to the pumps. But hold on we did – and it’s on to west London in just over two weeks’ time to determine who will progress to the final.
The decisive moment of the game was Kane’s successful penalty, although Gazzaniga’s excellent save in first-half stoppage time is worthy of a mention to ensure our lead remained intact.
But Kane’s goal won the match and he showed great character once again to step up when it mattered. Just how much it mattered remains to be seen...
Mauricio Pochettino felt we could have performed better at times, but was nevertheless pleased to see us take the upper hand in the tie.
"We were very competitive but we can do better," he said. "We can play better but to be honest, playing against a team like Chelsea is always difficult.
"They have an unbelievable squad, very good players, a lot of quality. We need to be happy but it’s only half-time and now we need to play the second leg at Stamford Bridge and it will be very difficult."
Goalscorer Kane added: "It was a proper semi-final, two good teams playing good football and it was tough. In the first half I thought we played well, created a few chances and got 1-0 up.
"The second half was tough. They pressed us, put the pressure on but we dealt with it well. They didn’t create too many chances. That’s part of the game – sometimes you have to dig in and look for the counter-attack - we had a couple of sniffs but overall a great clean sheet."
Reaction on Spurs TV
Spurs 1-0 Chelsea
Spurs (4-4-2): Gazzaniga, Trippier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Rose, Winks (Skipp 89), Sissoko, Eriksen (Llorente 90+1), Dele, Son (Lamela 79), Kane (c). Substitutes (not used): Lloris, Walker-Peters, Foyth, Davies.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Arrizabalaga, Azplicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger, Alonso, Jorginho, Kante, Barkley (Kovacic 75), Willian (Pedro 63), Hazard, Hudson-Odoi (Giroud 80). Substitutes (not used): Caballero, Zappacosta, Luiz, Ampadu.
Goal: Spurs – Kane 26 (pen).
Yellow cards: Spurs – Winks, Sanchez, Lamela; Chelsea - Arrizabalaga.
Referee: Michael Oliver.
Venue: Wembley Stadium, London.
Weather: Partly cloudy, light winds, seven degrees.