Tottenham Hotspur have reached the final of the Carabao Cup after defeating Brentford 2-0 in North London.
It was a fairly straightforward first half for Jose Mourinho’s men, who went into the break leading without coming under much threat.
The deadlock was broken by an unlikely source. Sergio Reguilon whipped in a beauty of a cross for Moussa Sissoko, who headed home unmarked from eight yards out in the 12th minute.
Spurs almost went two up shortly before half-time, when Bees striker Ivan Toney almost turned the ball into his own net from Heung-min Son’s corner, only for goalkeeper David Raya to pull off a fine save.
The second half was far more eventful. Spurs twice came close to doubling their lead, first when Serge Aurier fired over from close range, and then when Heung-min Son volleyed narrowly wide from Sissoko’s cross.
The big talking point in the game came after 60 minutes, when Toney thought he had levelled after heading in from close range. However, VAR stepped in, disallowing the goal because the striker was offside by his kneecap. This was the first VAR decision of the entire tournament, having not been used until this round.
Not long afterwards, Tottenham put the game to bed. Harry Kane fed Tanguy Ndombele, whose perfectly weighted through ball Son, who raced through on goal and finished emphatically.
Kane and Ndombele both came close to adding a third for the Lilywhites. The former saw his shot saved by the foot of Raya, while the latter hit the post from a tight angle.
Brentford’s disappointment was compounded by another VAR decision, this time to send off midfielder Josh Dasilva for a nasty challenge on Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. The Dane had to be substituted, and was pictured with blood streaming from his shin after the tackle.
Tottenham will play either Manchester United or Manchester City in the final at Wembley on April 25th.
Tottenham Under Mourinho – Unconvincing, But Effective
Once again, there were question marks over Spurs’ performance. The clubs’ biggest stars were out on the pitch, and yet they failed to dominate the game. While they were solid defensively, creating clear cut chances didn’t come easily to them until after their second goal. Against a Championship side, one may wonder whether they could take a few more risks.
After all, this approach has backfired several times in recent weeks. Tottenham led against Crystal Palace and Wolverhampton Wanderers for long periods of the game, but failed to get the second goal, and were ultimately punished for it. And, if not for VAR, it could have gone wrong again in this fixture.
The free-flowing football of the Mauricio Pochettino era is long gone, and the fans may have to get used to Jose Mourinho’s more pragmatic style.
But, at the end of the day, they still got the result. Sure, it may not have been as pretty as they’d have liked, but they’re in the final. And, if they win the final in the same manner, will the fans be complaining? Probably not. When it comes to knockout competitions, the result matters more than anything else.
VAR – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Well, we’re talking about VAR again. Fun.
Two major VAR incidents in this game. The first showed the unpopular side of the technology – the joyless, soulless part that rips the drama away from the spectacle. The pedantic machine that denies a potential turning point over mere centimetres.
Yes, Toney’s kneecap was ahead of Sissoko’s heel. Yes, by the letter of the law, it’s offside. But was Toney really gaining an advantage? Should a bit more common sense be brought in when it comes to cases like this?
The second incident portrayed VAR at its best. It was a clear and obvious error, it didn’t take too long, and the correct decision was made. Why can’t it be like this all the time?
One question still remains: why was VAR only introduced in the semi-finals? What about the previous stages? Were they not important enough?
Surely, if you’re going to use VAR in a competition, it should either be used all the time, or never. Everton fans will still be seething over their quarter-final tie, when Edinson Cavani escaped a red card after grabbing Yerry Mina by the throat, and then went on to score the winning goal. The Toffees were left wondering whether they’d still be in the competition had VAR been present.
Whatever you think of VAR, it’s always at the centre of attention.
Social Media Reaction
Moussa Sissoko gives Tottenham the lead:
What a cross from Reguilon, even Sissoko couldn’t miss that one 😍😍
— Noz Ahmed (@NozAhmed) January 5, 2021
What a header from Sissoko 💥 pic.twitter.com/BeHmQ1QBCJ
— B/R Football (@brfootball) January 5, 2021
That was Moussa Sissoko's first shot of 2020/21.
— Ali Tweedale (@alitweedale) January 5, 2021
Ivan Toney has a goal ruled out for offside:
Unless Sissoko's right foot is MUCH BIGGER than his left foot (which isn't inconceivable), then Toney's knee must be offside. But in no world is he gaining an advantage. Change the law. (Somehow – i haven't worked that out yet) https://t.co/7qSxAIfdY1
— Max Rushden 💛🖤 (@maxrushden) January 5, 2021
A small Championship club has had a possible Cup Final appearance ripped away from them because of THIS and people think VAR hasn’t killed the game. pic.twitter.com/pHN6X0rMv5
— ً (@samldnnn) January 5, 2021
This is where it’s become a joke, no VAR in any of the previous rounds, either use it for the whole competition or don’t use it at all
— MR DT (@MrDtAFC) January 5, 2021
Heung-min Son makes it 2-0 and seals Spurs’ place at Wembley:
I think it might have been suggested before, but Son is different class
— Jonas Hen Shrag (@JonathanShrager) January 5, 2021
Son doing what Son does 🙌 https://t.co/6vUzp5wCQu
— Fantasy Premier League (@OfficialFPL) January 5, 2021
Josh Dasilva gets sent off for a tackle on Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg:
Cowards challenge by DaSilva! Talented man but maybe that’s why he isn’t playing the top level? #totbre
— Trevor Sinclair (@trevor8sinclair) January 5, 2021
Looks bad in slow motion and can see why they’ve given him a red, but there’s no way Dasilva intended that.
— Gary Lineker 💙💛 (@GaryLineker) January 5, 2021