Tottenham advance into Carabao Cup semi-finals with West Ham win

West Ham United's Jarrod Bowen (second left) scores their side's first goal of the game during the C

West Ham United's Jarrod Bowen (second left) scores their side's first goal of the game during the Carabao Cup quarter final match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London. Picture date: Wednesday December 22, 2021. - Credit: PA

On a chilly night in north London, West Ham United were frozen out of the Carabao Cup with this quarter-final defeat at Tottenham Hotspur.

All the goal action arrived inside five frenetic first-half minutes as Steven Bergwijn broke the deadlock with the half-hour mark approaching and, although Jarrod Bowen brought the Hammers level with a quick-fire response, Lucas Moura soon restored the Spurs’ advantage.

And try as they might, David Moyes men kept themselves in the tie right up until the closing whistle, winning in the shots, corners and possession stakes but in the final reckoning the only stat that would matter was ‘Goals Scored’ and Antonio Conte’s men now head into a semi-final clash with Chelsea.

With Saturday’s match against Norwich City having been postponed as a result of the Canaries’ COVID-19 plight, the Hammers at least came into this last-eight tie with the benefit of a seven-day break following last Wednesday’s defeat at Arsenal.

But while Moyes was able to welcome Ben Johnson back into the fold on this instant return to north London, the Scot now found himself without Michail Antonio (COVID-19) and the suspended Vladimír Coufal, who had controversially been sent-off at Emirates Stadium.

Indeed, the West Ham boss made four changes as Johnson, Alphonse Areola, Nikola Vlašić and Harrison Ashby came into the starting line-up at the expense of Coufal, Antonio, Łukasz Fabiański and substitute Pablo Fornals.

And in a feisty opening to this full-blooded quarter-final that saw the lenient side of referee Chris Kavanagh come to the fore as typical derby tackles flew in, those new arrivals soon found themselves in the thick of the action.

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Only a dozen minutes were on the clock, when Harry Kane burst behind the Hammers defence but Areola acrobatically beat away the England skipper’s shot and, after the overlapping Ashby was fouled deep in Tottenham territory, Bowen’s tightly-angled free-kick was punched clear by a relieved Hugo Lloris.

With the 20-minute mark approaching, Vlašić carved out an opening for himself in the Spurs area but the Croatian international’s chances of breaking his Hammers goalscoring duck with a 10-yard half-volley were sadly spoiled by a deflection.

Ironically, having had three games postponed as a result of the pandemic, Spurs had managed to put in a stirring performance during their defiant, determined draw with Liverpool on Sunday afternoon.

The point that had lifted them into seventh spot - two places and two points behind West Ham - in the Premier League table had certainly not come without some controversial refereeing decisions but returning to Carabao Cup action, Conte made half-dozen changes as Bergwijn, Moura, Sergio Reguilón, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Oliver Skipp and Matt Doherty earned call-ups.

On the half-hour mark that new-look Spurs XI took the lead when Bergwijn – on the penalty spot - held off Craig Dawson to send Højbjerg to the byline and, when the Dane returned an angled pass back to the edge of the area, the Dutch striker fired his side ahead with an unstoppable eight-yarder.

With the Hammers looking to conjure up an instant response, Vlašic’s cross was met by the towering Tomáš Souček, who saw Lloris tip his looping header over the crossbar and, just seconds later, the same duo combined once more and, yet again, when the Czech Republic midfielder nodded goalwards, the back-pedalling Spurs’ keeper somehow managed to divert the effort away for another corner.

Dawson also sent a thumping header just an inch or so over the crossbar into the Spurs’ fans packed behind Lloris’ goal and as every second passed, that slender home lead was looking more and more fragile. 

Sure enough, on 32 minutes, West Ham got the quick reply they had been pressing for, when Eric Dier merely succeeded in passing a short goal-kick from Lloris straight to Souček who played the interception towards the front-running Vlašić.

And although the Croatian’s shot was charged down, it deflected into the path of Bowen, who twisted and turned the red-faced Dier before stroking a low 12-yarder beyond the livid Lloris to level the tie.

But just as Spurs had struggled to shut-up shop after finding the net, then the Hammers were equally guilty, too, allowing Conte’s crew to regain their lead within just two minutes, when Bergwijn made his way to the byline before cutting back to Moura who got in front of the sliding Johnson to fire the hosts back in front.

Then, in a frustrating end to the opening 45 minutes, Souček’s luck again deserted him when he slid Manuel Lanzini’s deep cross just millimetres wide of the base of the right-hand upright and, in the closing moments, Bowen was booked for tugging back the escaping Reguilón.

Just after the restart, the busy Bowen sent a diving header inches wide before then finding himself back in the Spurs area, once more, where Lloris bravely dived into his studs to palm away the danger.

On the hour, Conte introduced Heung-min Son and Harry Winks as goal-scorers Moura and Bergwijn stood down, while Moyes countered by bringing on Fornals and Saïd Benrahma to replace Lanzini and the unfortunate Vlašić, who had put in his most industrious performance in Claret & Blue, to date.

Benrahma wasted no time skying over from ten yards with an instinctive snapshot and, with a dozen minutes remaining, the Algerian substitute went much closer with a low 18-yarder that flashed though the pack and into Lloris’ ribs.

With Andriy Yarmolenko now replacing Ashby, the supercharged Benrahma then collected from the Ukrainian substitute and let fly with an angled 20-yarder that flashed across the face of Lloris as it sizzled through the chilly north London air and beyond the far post.

As the seconds ticked down, with Spurs now on the back foot, West Ham desperately hassled, harried, prodded and probed in search of an elusive equaliser that would force penalties and keep their Carabao Cup dreams alive.

Certainly, Yarmolenko was in the thick of things once more, letting fly with 20-yarder that looped up off late-substitute Japhet Tanganga before being finger-tipped over his far angle by Lloris for a last-gasp corner.

And even though yellow-shirted ‘keeper Areola, of all people, arrived in Spurs area to steer a header back into the mix, Lloris gratefully smothered both the ball and the Hammers semi-final hopes as Conte’s side made it into the draw for the last four.

SPURS: Lloris, Dier, Sánchez, Højbjerg, Doherty (Tanganga 83), Davies, Skipp (Alli 76), Reguilón (Royal 83), Moura (Winks 60), Bergwijn (Son 60), Kane. Unused subs: Gollini, Rodon, Lo Celso, Ndombele.

HAMMERS: Areola, Johnson, Masuaku, Dawson, Diop, Ashby (Yarmolenko 80), Souček, Rice, Lanzini (Fornals 67), Bowen, Vlašić (Benrahma 76). Unused subs: Randolph, Noble, Fredericks, Král, Alese, Baptiste.

Booked: Bowen (37)

Referee: Chris Kavanagh

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