Tottenham manager hails character of Gazzaniga after shoot-out win
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Mauricio Pochettino praised his fellow Argentinean, lauded Dele Alli’s display and discussed the effort of the fans
Mauricio Pochettino reiterated his faith in Spurs goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga after he played a starring role in last night’s victory over Watford in the third round of the League Cup.
The tie, which was played at Stadium MK because Wembley Stadium was unavailable and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is still not complete, sparked into life after a goalless first half.
Watford took the lead 36 seconds into the second period through Isaac Success, but Dele Alli equalised from the penalty spot nine minutes from time and then Erik Lamela dinked past Heurelho Gomes to finish off a superb break and make it 2-1 with 86 on the clock.
A deflected equaliser from Etienne Capoue forced a shoot-out, but Gazzaniga come up trumps after he denied Capoue and Domingos Quina to inspire a 4-2 win on penalties.
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Pochettino said: “I think Paulo was fantastic and then he showed his character in the penalty shoot-out.
“We believe in him and have a lot of faith in him, and now it is a special period of course.”
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Gazzaniga was playing just his third match for Spurs, but once again ended up on the winning team like he had done at Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend and during the 1-0 success at home to Crystal Palace last season.
There was also a first start since September 2 for Alli, who captained Tottenham on his return to Milton Keynes.
He progressed through the MK Dons academy before departing to join Spurs, but is seen as a hero in his home town.
When reflecting on his performance, Pochettino said: “Dele was inspired by the occasion, to play here he was so excited - the energy in the previous day (Tuesday) was amazing.
“And when we arrived here, he was so open to help everyone. We can feel here the love that the people feel for him and that was fantastic for us.
“For him it is an experience he will remember for all of his life. To be Tottenham captain and score is a fantastic night for him.”
It did seem for long periods Spurs would not enjoy their venture to Stadium MK, which is over 50 miles away from N17.
Eventually it went well for Tottenham, and a crowd of 23,650 were present to witness the late drama.
There was a penalty, a red card, a superb counter-attacking goal, a late equaliser and then a shoot-out – this cup tie had everything.
And if Spurs are drawn at home again in the fourth round, Pochettino would be open to returning to Stadium MK.
He added: “We’ll see what happens in the draw. The objective was to go through to the next round and we are so happy. It was penalties, but it was fantastic to get the positive result after the Brighton victory.
“Yes, so happy, another victory in a different competition. We have played eight games, six Premier League, one cup and another in the Champions League.
“We have played six away, two at Wembley and Saturday we play at Huddersfield Town, so we need to say too that the effort of the team is fantastic to play a lot of games away from home.
“It’s important to tell you and you to tell our fans that the effort we are doing with the fans is fantastic for the club.”