Harry Kane’s penalty gives Spurs the edge over Chelsea

VAR required before striker fired home winning goal at Wembley

 Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur is fouled by Chelsea goalkeeper  Kepa Arrizabalaga during the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg.  A penalty was  awarded through VAR, which Kane scored. Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur is fouled by Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga during the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg. A penalty was awarded through VAR, which Kane scored. Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

 

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Chelsea 0

Mauricio Pochettino wants to scream when he is told that he must win a trophy to validate his work at Tottenham. The manager hopes supporters see the bigger picture; how he has the club punching above their weight when it comes to things like balance sheets.

Pochettino wants to win this Carabao Cup semi-final purely for the thrill of winning and his team have put their noses in front before the second leg at Stamford Bridge, which has been scheduled for Thursday January 24th.

There was very little in it here and Maurizio Sarri – who is also without a trophy from his managerial career – departed cursing Chelsea’s lack of cutting edge. They were the team that pushed and they created the chances to have taken some reward. They could also lament the manner in which two chances came back off the post.

It was Harry Kane, inevitably, who scored the only goal – from the penalty spot – but one thing was clear. It is set up extremely nicely for the return.

Wembley had been the scene of Chelsea nightmares in late November when they simply did not turn up to the Premier League fixture with Spurs. The 3-1 scoreline was a mercy. When Sarri reflected recently on his first season in English football, he mentioned the losses to Wolves and Leicester as his regrets. The Spurs mauling? “I don’t talk about that,” Sarri said.

Pochettino started with the same system, with Dele Alli in a roving role behind Son Heung-min and Kane; partly to construct a creative platform for Alli, partly to ask him to stifle Jorginho when Chelsea had possession. That had been the basis of the league victory.

Alli released Son early on with a lovely ball over the top, which Andreas Christensen just about dealt with, and Chelsea could feel that they had made a solid start. Kane saw an overhead kick thud into Kepa Arrizabalaga – it was straightforward for the goalkeeper – while, at the other end, Chelsea had flickered.

Ross Barkley of Chelsea wins a header over Moussa Sissoko of Tottenham Hotspur during the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at Wembley Stadium. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images
Ross Barkley of Chelsea wins a header over Moussa Sissoko of Tottenham Hotspur during the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at Wembley Stadium. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

The tone changed on 24 minutes when Spurs got the penalty from which Kane banged home his 160th goal for the club, lifting him above Cliff Jones into fourth place on the all-time list. A reminder: Kane is still only 25. The execution was nerveless and clinical.

Arrizabalaga’s challenge on Kane was a clear penalty. The striker had fastened on to Toby Alderweireld’s long ball and touched decisively past the outrushing Arrizabalaga before being clattered by him. But the assistant referee had flagged for offside, which looked extremely tight and so we went to VAR, which is in effect in the Carabao Cup.

It took an age to clear up whether Kane had been level with the last man or otherwise but in the end, he was proved to have timed his run to perfection. There can be no arguing with the technology. Arrizabalaga was booked.

Sarri had included Callum Hudson-Odoi from the start, which provided a rich narrative strand. On the day Bayern Munich raised their offer for the 18-year-old winger to £35 million, the Chelsea manager clearly wanted to show him he has a future at Stamford Bridge. Álvaro Morata was unavailable because of a minor hamstring problem.

Hudson-Odoi worked Paulo Gazzaniga with a low shot on seven minutes and a mixed bag of a first half for him almost ended with glory. His cross deflected off Danny Rose and looked to have caught out Gazzaniga only for the goalkeeper to backtrack and claw the ball against the far post. Alderweireld completed the clearance. Moments earlier, N’Golo Kanté had volleyed against the same post from Marcos Alonso’s cross. Chelsea were unlucky to be behind at the interval.

Spurs were determined, as ever, to build from the back and that risked losing the ball as Sarri ordered his players to press high. There were murmurs of exasperation, at times, from the home crowd. Spurs’ quest to break the Chelsea lines and create a telling pocket of space was a key facet of the tactical battle.

When you have Kane, often only the slightest of openings are required and he extended Arrizabalaga on 52 minutes after slick work from Moussa Sissoko and Alli. Kane’s movement carried latent menace. But Chelsea pressed on to the front foot. They fought to pen Spurs in and there was a coherence to some of their build-up play. The chances followed. Eden Hazard, who turned sharply and probed throughout, worked Gazzaniga on more than one occasion while Kanté also forced him into a save.

Chelsea shouted in vain for handballs inside the area against Rose and Alderweireld but the moment when their hearts skipped came in the 58th minute. Ross Barkley flicked on a corner and there was Christensen, all alone at the far post. He scuffed his shot wide. – Guardian

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