Tottenham labour past Brighton
Home side settled by Erik Lamela’s goal after coming off bench
Tottenham Hotspur’s Erik Lamela celebrates after scoring against Brighton Hove Albion during their English League Cup game at White Hart Lane. Photograph: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters
Tottenham 2 Brighton 0
The finish was less extravagant than the one with which he lit up Tottenham Hotspur’s previous midweek cup tie but Erik Lamela might reflect that it was more important. His team had laboured, not for the first time at White Hart Lane, when he was thrust on as a half-time substitute, charged with making something happen against opposition that are struggling in the Championship.
Lamela did precisely that. He started and finished the move that unlocked this League One Cup tie and had the home support dreaming of Wembley and, even, the possibility of a rare piece of silverware. A week on from his memorable rabona in the 5-1 Europa League rout of Asteras Tripolis, Lamela knifed into the area to fire low into the bottom corner.
It was a knife into Brighton hearts and the result was not in doubt from that point. Harry Kane continued his hot streak in cup football and his journey deeper into the hearts of the home crowd with the second goal and Mauricio Pochettino could savour a positive reaction to Sunday’s collective black-out against Newcastle United in the Premier League.
Brighton had not made it this far in the League Cup since 1979/’80 and Sami Hyypia chopped and changed his line-up once again. The manager continues to seek the perfect blend and the major surprise was the selection of the England under-19 goalkeeper, Christian Walton. It was the 18-year-old’s debut in club football. He emerged with credit in the first half, particularly for the low block from Roberto Soldado’s shot from a tight angle.
Aaron Lennon had seen an early shot blocked, while he skewed other efforts and Kane could not control Soldado’s chipped cross. Tottenham had plenty of corners but the anxiety bubbled.
Brighton brought around 4,000 fans and they fired the atmosphere. Their travails towards the foot of the Championship were temporarily forgotten and, after the testing opening, they gained a foothold midway through the first half.
They might have gained the lead had the referee, Mark Clattenburg, spotted what looked like a handball by the Tottenham right-back, Kyle Naughton, in the 28th minute. Hyypia raged at the fourth official. “You could see that,” he screamed. Clattenburg did not.
Brighton flickered on the break and with Rohan Ince in commanding form in front of the back four, they came to present a tough nut to crack. Pochettino felt the need to summon one of his big guns off the bench and it was the introduction of Lamela that made the difference.
The Argentina forward always wants the ball and he demanded it, having drifted inside from the left flank and, in a flash, Brighton were in trouble. Lamela went through the gears, swapping passes with Soldado and slicing into the penalty area. He never looked like blowing the chance on his right foot.
Brighton felt that Clattenburg was against them but Tottenham were deserved winners. Soldado did everything but score. He forced Walton into two reflex saves. From the second the ball broke for Kane and he reacted to score his seventh goal of the season. Guardian Service