Tottenham pair Jan Vertonghen and Andros Townsend admitted they were given a tough test by underdogs Sheffield United in their Capital One Cup semi-final first leg on Wednesday night.
The Premier League side were heavy favourites against the League One outfit, but were largely stifled going forward in a dour match at White Hart Lane.
They eventually claimed a hard-fought 1-0 win following Townsend’s 74th-minute penalty kick after Jay McEveley senselessly handled in the area.
While Vertonghen was not too despondent that they take the most slender of leads into the return leg at Bramall Lane next week, he did concede Spurs had “tried everything”.
“We wanted to keep a clean sheet and score a couple of goals, the last thing didn’t really work out but one is not too bad,” he said on Sky Sports 1.
“We didn’t underestimate them but they were just a good team, they were well organised and they tried to play from the back - so much respect for them.
“It’s a compliment that it was that hard because we tried everything, but they were just very organised and even tried to play in a positive way.”
Townsend echoed his team-mate’s sentiments.
“They were extremely difficult for us, they set up very well right to the end; we couldn’t break them down, we couldn’t get through them, we couldn’t get in behind them so all credit to Sheffield United,” he said.
“But hopefully now going to Bramall Lane they’ve got to come and get a goal, hopefully there’ll be spaces for us to create more chances.”
The England international’s three previous goals this season had come from the penalty spot and he had no doubts when he stepped up to give his side the advantage heading into the return leg.
“I was extremely confident, I just couldn’t wait to get the ball and hopefully put it in the back of the net,” Townsend added.
“I think the keeper knew where I was going, I knew where I was going so it was just about getting enough power to get it past the keeper and that’s what happened.”
Tottenhan head coach Mauricio Pochettino paid tribute to a valiant effort from the Yorkshire outfit.
“I think that Sheffield played very aggressive in the first half and cut every action and played narrow and deep too, that was difficult for us,” he said.
“We didn’t find the best positions to create more chances.
“I think that was a very, very difficult game but we were aware of that. Now we need look forward and try to win the second game in Sheffield.”
Blades boss Nigel Clough said: "We're still in the tie. Only that one-goal deficit, disappointed at that, I thought we were on for a nil-nil.
“We were comfortable up to half-time, just a mistake (from McEveley), it caught his arm, a bit unfortunate. He thought the ball just checked up but it’s definitely handball. He didn’t mean it, it’s unintentional but it’s certainly handball.”
Clough says that they will enter the return leg with plenty of hope, adding: “We’re going to give it everything we can.”