Lucas Moura’s decisive goal as Spurs tackle West Ham in Carabao Cup | Carabao Cup
Antonio Conte has had an informal closed cup glory road this week. The Tottenham manager was never going to allow another to follow suit.
The Italian remains furious at the end of his club’s Europa League Conference campaign on Monday – losing the final group stage game, amid a Covid locker room outbreak – and he wants a solution through the courts.
His players got the job done in a more conventional way here, responding to his urges on the sideline for a frenzied victory in the derby. Thrilled by 5,700 traveling fans, West Ham played a full part in a Cup draw, Jarrod Bowen – who scored a fabulous equalizer – in top form and captain, Declan Rice, a relentless presence at the wheel. Neither of them deserved to be on the losing team.
But it’s the Spurs who advance to the Carabao Cup semi-finals and they have to thank one of their forgotten men. The less spotted Steven Bergwijn came to life in the first half, scoring the opening game and building on what turned out to be Lucas Moura’s winner.
West Ham, the dominant force for long stretches, fought to the end and to the death, substitute Andriy Yarmolenko saw Hugo Lloris grab a shot that deflected and headed for the far corner . It wasn’t West Ham night.
Tottenham are playing with greater intensity under Conte. They run further, according to statistics, and they seem better placed to play in their attacking runners behind opposing defenses, their exchanges more fluid.
This is what David Moyes’ players had to guard against and they were almost off the hook early on when Lucas pulled away from Issa Diop and formed a wonderful low pass around Craig Dawson for Harry Kane. The angle was tight and Kane didn’t make the most powerful connection with his left foot. West Ham Cup keeper Alphonse Areola made the save.
The first half was rich in octane and packed with action, both teams vowed to attack, and Bergwijn was the central figure.
Beginning his first game under Conte and his first for the Spurs since October 27, the winger had been mixed at first, his touch a little heavy, his radar askew. Everything changed in the 29th minute when Pierre-Emile HÃ¸jbjerg accepted a layoff from him and pushed the right side of the box. The midfielder may have shot, but instead he played a nice inside pass with a disguise so Bergwijn finished at close range.
West Ham had started brilliantly, Bowen working Lloris off a free kick and seeing another effort blocked by Davinson SÃ¡nchez. Bowen’s quick feet were a delight and his team responded superbly to the backhand.
On two occasions, Tomas Soucek tested Lloris with a header – the first, when he dominated SÃ¡nchez, completely extending the goalkeeper – and Dawson also shot a free header from a Bowen corner.
The equalizer came at the end of a period of relentless pressure from West Ham. Eric Dier, referred to pre-game by Conte as having the ability to be the best in the world in the middle of a back three, gave the ball and, when West Ham brought it back to the zone by Nikola Vlasic , Bowen threw Dier with a deft turn before pulling low in front of Lloris.
Spurs returned and it was excellent skill from Bergwijn that led him to overtake Manuel Lanzini. Without a tackle from Arthur Masuaku or Diop, Bergwijn crossed for Lucas to get home, Areola coming down too slowly. It was too easy from West Ham’s point of view.
Moyes had been baffled by Michail Antonio’s positive Covid test and could also indicate being defenseless first choice – the suspended Vladimir Coufal and the injured Angelo Ogbonna, Kurt Zouma and Aaron Cresswell. Moyes had to adapt and Bowen certainly answered the call, whether it was in the middle or on the right, where he operated in the second half.
If it had felt nervous on Tottenham High Road before kick-off – scuffles erupting between the two fan groups; highly visible riot police – it was lively and physical on the pitch, tackles flaring up with emotion from the first whistle.
Bergwijn could have finished the first half with a hat-trick, having been too quick for Dawson after a Matt Doherty cross only for the defender to dip into his pocket. Previously, the excellent Oliver Skipp had stretched a leg to push Soucek to the far post.
West Ham stepped on the front foot early in the second period, Bowen continuing to threaten, getting close to a header and also when chasing a high ball on Lloris.
Conte had to respond and his move on time was the introduction of Harry Winks and Son Heung-min, and a move from 3-4-2-1 to 3-5-2. Moyes’ 3-4-3 asked a lot of questions.
He presented Pablo Fornals as a false nine, with Bowen and another substitute, Said Benrahma, on either side of him and West Ham pushed to the last. Benrahma had a handful of openings, but Spurs held on to book an intriguing semi-final clash with former Conte club Chelsea.