Two teams with a pressing desire for silverware met in the Carabao Cup quarter-final at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and it was Antonio Conte’s resurgent Tottenham who booked their place in the semi-finals beating West Ham United 2-1. Spurs will now play Chelsea in the semi-finals.
West Ham were missing talisman Michail Antonio through a positive Covid test whilst Conte rang the changes for Spurs following the 2-2 draw with Liverpool giving starts to Steven Bergwijn, Matt Doherty, Lucas Moura and Pierre Emile-Hojbjerg.
Antonio Conte’s Resurgent Tottenham Through to Last Four of Carabao Cup
Steven Bergwijn Inspires Spurs to First Half Lead
It was a typically frenetic first 45 minutes with Tottenham having eight attempts and West Ham seven with West Ham also earning 5 corners as the flow of the game went from end to end.
Bergiwjn has had to bide his time to get a start under Conte but he looked determined to take his chance and had an early shot deflected wide before opening the scoring on 28 minutes after playing a lovely 1-2 with Hojbjerg.
West Ham piled on the pressure though and had it not been for the brilliance of Hugo Lloris, the Hammers would have been back in the game or even ahead before Jarrod Bowen eventually drew them deservedly level. It was poor from Tottenham and Eric Dier, whom Conte had lavished praise on this week, who played the ball out of the box straight to West Ham and when the ball fell to Bowen he turned and slotted home passed Lloris who had no chance with the finish.
For all the West Ham pressure it was Bergwijn who once again swung the game back into the favour of the home team as he picked the ball up on the edge of the area and showed pace, power and trickery to get to the line and cross for Lucas Moura who slotted home. Moura had already had the Spurs fans on their feet when he played a defence-splitting ball to Harry Kane who was denied by Alphonse Areola.
West Ham Pressure Fails to Pay Off
The intensity carried through into the second half, mainly from West Ham as Tottenham started to manage the game and were happy to allow West Ham to have the majority of possession and started to sink deeper and deeper as the half wore on. Bowen again caused problems and he ran onto a lofted Manuel Lanzini pass but once more it was Frenchman Lloris to the rescue as he came quickly out and the danger passed. Lloris was, without doubt, the busier of the two keepers and needed all of his experience to keep West Ham at bay but Conte is a winner and a master of game management – although at just 2-1 it did have nerves jangling in the crowd. Ultimately Tottenham did the job in the first half and whilst West Ham showed endeavour they were frustrated by a World Cup winning keeper and a serial winning manager.
Conte Getting the Best Out of Fringe Players
What stood out in Tottenham’s win was the performances of the fringe players who had failed to perform under Jose Mourinho, Nuno Espírito Santo and against NS Mura for new boss Antonio Conte. Matt Doherty was solid at right wing-back and managed to get into the kind of positions that were a hallmark of his fine form under Nuno at Wolverhampton Wanderers. When needed he stood strong and blocked crosses from the left and deserved his applause when replaced late on by Emerson Royal.
The standout performance and man of the match was Bergwijn. Much of football is played in the head and confidence is key to form. Considering he hadn’t played for Spurs in any real significance under Conte his attitude was exemplary and was a clear sign of the demand that the Italian places on all of his players. Strong, skilful and fast with the ball he continued to cause West Ham problems and this Tottenham side is no longer just about Harry Kane or and Son Heung-min. This is a collective that is being built by Conte and now he has his side one step away from Wembley as he looks to achieve what those before him have failed to do – that is bring silverware back to the club.
Embed from Getty Images