Tottenham Hotspur survived a scare at Stoke City to reach the semi-finals of the League Cup thanks to goals from Gareth Bale, Ben Davies and Harry Kane.
Bale’s goal, only his second since returning to Spurs in the summer, was a clever flicked header from a Harry Winks cross, and put Spurs in control after a largely lacklustre first half.
However, Stoke – who had offered little in the way of goal threat for the opening 50 minutes – gave themselves a chance for an upset when Jordan Thompson drifted off the back of Matt Doherty and smashed home his first goal for the club from close range.
The game opened up as Spurs lost a bit of shape, giving the hosts hope of securing a cup upset. But a rocket of a shot from distance by Davies restored Tottenham’s advantage, before Kane made the game safe with a classy finish as Stoke pushed numbers forward chasing an equaliser.
Jose Mourinho’s side join Brentford and Manchester City in the final four, with one of Everton and Manchester United to make up the semi-final line-up.
This match was a chance for Dele Alli to show Jose Mourinho that he has a future in the manager’s plans at Spurs, but for all the flicks, tricks and clever runs it is the moment that he gave the ball away leading to Stoke’s equaliser that will have stood out to Mourinho.
Taking that sort of risk has always been part of Dele’s game, it’s part of what has made him such a dangerous player, but it’s also exactly the sort of thing that his manager wants to eliminate from Tottenham’s play.
He’s still a good enough player to force Mourinho to change his mind, but odds on a January move for Dele must surely have just shortened further.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Harry Kane (Tottenham)
It wasn’t necessarily Kane’s best performance of the season, but he’s in such good form that even at 80% he was still too much for Stoke. He provided the biggest threat throughout and his goal to seal it late on was the finish of a world-class striker.
Stoke City: Lonergan 8, Collins 6, Batth 6, Souttar 6, Smith 7, Cousins 6, Thompson 7, Fox 6, Oakley-Boothe 6, McClean 6, Brown 6. Subs: Vokes 6, Fletcher 7, Powell 6.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris 6, Doherty 5, Sanchez 6, Dier 7, Davies 7, Hojbjerg 7, Winks 7, Dele 6, Lucas 5, Bale 6, Kane 9. Subs: Sissoko 6, Lamela 7, Son 7.
Gareth Bale of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates
Image credit: Getty Images
22’ GOAL! - Spurs have the lead and it’s Gareth Bale who’s got it! A cross from deep by Harry Winks picks out Bale unmarked on the penalty spot, and his guided flicked header perfectly finds the bottom corner. That’s a clever finish.
53’ GOAL! - Stoke grab an equaliser out of absolutely nowhere, with Thompson ghosting onto a cross at the back post and slamming a shot through Lloris from close range. Thompson should never have been left in that much space, but it’s a good finish and a real shake-up for a game that Spurs looked to have under control.
66’ SUBSTITUTIONS - Mourinho has seen enough and makes a double change. On come Sissoko and a fit-again Lamela for Dele and Lucas.
70’ GOAL! - Spurs are back ahead and it’s come from an unexpected source. There didn’t seem to be much danger when a clearance fell to Ben Davies 25 yards out, but he set himself up well and struck a fizzer of a shot that skimmed off the surface before nestling right into the bottom corner. It’s a wonderful strike.
76’ OFFSIDE! - Son has the ball in the back of the net after lovely link-up with Kane and a delicate dinked finish over the keeper, but the flag is up. Replays suggest he was certainly onside and that should be game over.
81’ GOAL! - That’s surely the game in the bag for Spurs as Harry Kane rockets a shot into the roof of the net after Stoke give the ball away in a dangerous position. Clinical.
This is the fifth time that Jose Mourinho has led a side to the semi-finals of the League Cup. He has gone on to win the competition in each of the previous four.
Ben Davies’ goal was his first for Spurs since 2017, 111 games since his previous effort against Huddersfield three years ago.
Harry Kane’s goal was his tenth in 11 games against Stoke.
Stoke have become the fifth club that Kane has scored ten or more goals against, following Leicester City, Arsenal, West Ham and Southampton.