Conte's Trophy Target Intact, As Spurs Beat West Ham United In The Carabao Cup

There were nervy moments for Spurs, but five frantic minutes decided this cup tie
21:46, 22 Dec 2021

Tottenham Hotspur are through to the semi-final of the Carabao Cup, after beating West Ham United 2-1. The game was decided in a blistering five-minute period in the first half, with all three goals arriving in quick-fire fashion. Spurs had the better of an entertaining first period but seemed content to invite the Hammers onto them in the second. Their cautious approach paid off in the end, but not without some nervy moments in north London.

Tottenham had the best chance of the early going, with a superb Lucas Moura ball found Harry Kane in the left half-space. The England striker forced Alphonse Areola into a fine save, an early warning shot from Antonio Conte’s side. At the other end, Jarrod Bowen’s searching cross forced Hugo Lloris to confidently punch the ball clear. 

When the first goal arrived, it was a smooth and well-worked effort. Steven Bergwijn, being given a rare outing, brilliantly switched with Pierre-Emile Hojberg before slotting home his first goal of the season. It was an electric move, and lit up the game in what had been a fairly cagey opening. 

West Ham United were sparked into life, and Lloris made two excellent saves from Tomas Soucek in quick succession. The first saw the France international flex his agility with a top corner dive, while the second saw him time a looping header to tip it over the bar. The Hammers were relentless after conceding and got their reward just 192 seconds after Bergwijn had put them behind. Eric Dier was pressed into a poor pass out of defence, Nikola Vlasic picked up the loose ball and his deflected pass found Bowen. The ex-Hull City forward showed superb close control to fashion a shooting opportunity and dispatched it before Lloris could react.

This frenetic game went up another notch when Bergwijn picked the ball up in a wide right position. The Dutchman left a group of Spurs players in his wake before his centre was slotted home by Moura. The three goals had arrived in a five-minute period, as this Carabao Cup tie hit its wonderfully entertaining stride.

The second half was slower to get going, with Spurs content to sit back in their shape and invite West Ham to try and change the tenor of the game. Arthur Masuaku’s cross to Bowen was dangerous and took a great-headed Ben Davies intervention to alleviate. Lloris was also called up once more, closing the distance brilliantly to deny Bowen after a superb run. So much of West Ham’s attacking intent came from the Leominster-born forward, who had an excellent game.

Conte shuffled his deck, taking the excellent Bergwijn off and introducing Heung-Min Son, while Harry Winks replaced the more attack-minded Moura. Spurs switched to a more solid 3-5-2 shape, with Son providing extra support for Kane. The intention appeared to be to give the Hammers defence something more to think about in central areas, as they had looked largely untroubled since the break.

The strike partnership nearly dovetailed in the way we’ve come to expect, when Son couldn’t quite reach an excellent pass inside from Kane. Had the South Korean superstar reached it, you sense the game would have stretched beyond West Ham. As it was, they attacked with drive and intent, with Said Benrahma going closest with a superb effort from distance that fizzed just past Lloris’ post.

As the minutes ticked down, Spurs held their shape, defending narrowly and trying to see out this quarter-final. They managed it, despite a nervy last minute where Lloris’ crossbar rattled, and Areola caused havoc with a late charge forward. The home side accomplished their mission though, and Conte remains on course to win his first piece of Tottenham silverware.

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