‘Mature’ semi-final display delights Tottenham boss Pochettino
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The 46-year-old discussed Spurs’ 1-0 win over Chelsea in the League Cup semi-final first leg and warned it is only half time
Mauricio Pochettino was impressed with his Spurs team after they produced a dogged defensive performance to shut out Chelsea in the League Cup semi-final first leg and take a one-goal advantage to Stamford Bridge.
Harry Kane’s first-half penalty proved the only difference between the London rivals, and the spot-kick was only awarded after an intervention by Video Assistant Referee (VAR) at Wembley Stadium.
Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga brought down the Tottenham captain for the night inside the area and although the forward was initially flagged offside, VAR was able to reverse the decision.
After taking the lead, Spurs, and particularly Toby Alderweireld, snuffed out most of the Blues threat, yet they did hit the post on a handful of occasions through Kante and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
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Pochettino reflected: “I think we were very competitive. I am so pleased. We played against one of the best teams in England and in Europe, a team that have been built to win titles.
“They have unbelievable players, so I think to win this type of game is an amazing and huge experience for us to be more mature.
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“Of course it’s only half-time, it’s a small advantage 1-0, and we need to be competitive in the second leg.
“We need to give the credit to Chelsea because in the second half they pushed a lot and made us play a little bit deeper, but of course, I’m very happy because we were competitive and in the end we won the game.”
Pressed on why the visitors were able to push Spurs back during the second half, the Tottenham manager pointed to the amount of quality players in the opposition team.
He added: “I think we were playing a final and of course it’s a different approach when you’re playing the League Cup or Premier League or Champions League.
“I think we need to give the credit to Chelsea. We’re talking about players like Kante, Jorginho, (Ross) Barkley, (Eden) Hazard, Willian - unbelievable players.
“When they want to play, when they feel the energy, when they need to push to give the extra, they are great players. We need to see that we were playing against one of the best teams in the last five years to ten years.
“I think Chelsea were the club that won the most titles in England and Europe. Of course, we are from the beginning competing in this type of level and we need to feel very happy because we competed with one of the best teams in England.”
Kane’s winner took him above Cliff Jones and into fourth place in Tottenham’s all-time leading goalscorer list and it was also his 20th goal of the campaign.