Spurs debutant misses decisive penalty as Tottenham crash out of Carling Cup
Carling Cup: Tottenham 0 Stoke City 0 (Stoke win 7-6 on penalties)
Spurs Australian youngster Massimo Luongo suffered heartbreak on his Tottenham debut, missing the decisive spot-kick as the Lilywhites were knocked out of the Carling Cup on penalties.
An uninspiring 120 minutes had ended in a goalless draw at Stoke’s Britannia Stadium, forcing the match to be decided by a shoot-out.
With both sides successfully netting six kicks, City’s Ryan Shotton stepped up to beat Heurelho Gomes and make it 7-6 to the hosts.
But Spurs’ seventh man Luongo - a member of Tim Sherwood’s Under-18 development squad - was unable to follow suit, and the young midfielder saw his kick saved by Thomas Sorensen as Tottenham fell at the first hurdle of the League Cup for the second season in a row.
Taking charge of his third Spurs match in six days, Harry Redknapp made nine changes from the starting line-up that had kicked off against Liverpool, with Younes Kaboul and Benoit Assou-Ekotto the only survivors.
They were joined in the rearguard by Vedran Corluka and Sebastien Bassong, while Gomes made only his second start of the campaign in a notoriously unpleasant fixture for visiting goalkeepers.
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In midfield, Sandro made his long-awaited return from injury alongside Jake Livermore and 19-year-old Tom Carroll, with wide men Rafael van der Vaart and Giovani Dos Santos supporting front man Roman Pavlyuchenko in a 4-3-3 formation.
Despite enduring a similarly hectic schedule due to their own Europa League adventures, last season’s FA Cup finalists Stoke named a strong side, including ex-Spurs midfielders Wilson Palacios and Matthew Etherington.
Peter Crouch started on the bench against his former club, but entered the fray after just 12 minutes, replacing the injured Kenwyne Jones.
Moments later, Stoke carved out the first chance of the game in characteristic style, as Robert Huth headed over from a corner kick - but that was to be the only goalmouth action of the following half an hour in a dull affair.
Tottenham had the better of the possession but struggled to find any cutting edge to their play, while a solid City outfit sought to stifle their visitors, and make the most of their aerial threat at set pieces.
Eventually, with half-time approaching, Sandro asked Thomas Sorensen to make a comfortable save with a 25-yard effort, while Carroll volleyed wide from a Pavlyuchenko cross just before the interval.
Spurs emerged from the interval with a renewed vigour, with Livermore shooting narrowly wide early on, while Pavlyuchenko tested Sorensen with a powerful piledriver – although a pass to Giovani seemed to be the better option.
Van der Vaart also went close, firing a free kick through the wall but missing the target as Spurs dominated the opening 15 minutes of the half.
However, Stoke nearly took the lead as the hapless Gomes fluffed a punch from a cross and, with Crouch poised to head into an open goal, Sandro responded superbly to beat his former team-mate to the ball.
Redknapp replaced Van der Vaart with Jermain Defoe shortly after the hour-mark and Luongo then came on for his debut as Sandro was withdrawn after 71 minutes.
Quality was at a premium but Stoke who grew in stature in the closing stages, only to find Kaboul in the way time and away, as the Frenchman repeatedly repelled the hosts’ aerial attacks time.
A late decider did not arrive, though, signalling another half an hour of extra-time - and Gomes caused another panic when he spilled Huth’s shot, saving his own blushes by recovering to block Crouch’s rebound.
Tottenham made their final change, with Andros Townsend replacing Giovani, but Stoke then created the best chance of the match as substitute Jonathan Walters went through one on one against Gomes, only to slide his effort wide of the net.
The sides changed ends once again, but the best chance came from another Gomes gaffe as the Brazilian slipped with Crouch closing in, scrambling the ball away for a throw-in.
Neither side were able to break the deadlock after 120 minutes as Spurs secured their fourth clean sheet in a row - and, as the match became a shoot-out, Walters and Defoe traded efforts to make it 1-1.
Pennant hit the bar but Pavlyuchenko immediately let him off the hook, firing high over the bar to cap an abject all-round performance.
The next 11 kicks were all successful, as Townsend, Corluka, Kaboul, Livermore and Carroll cancelled out Stoke’s strikes – but when Shotton converted to make it 7-6, Luongo was unable to find the target, with Sorensen making the save to dump Tottenham out of the competition.
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