Tottenham face Manchester City or Manchester United in the EFL Cup final after goals from Moussa Sissoko and Heung-min Son led them past an impressive Brentford side in north London on Tuesday.
Spurs had to undergo early pressure from their championship visit before Moussa Sissoko headed the hosts ahead in the 12th minute. An evenly balanced draw seemed to swing back against Brentford early in the second half and Ivan Toney thought he had leveled the match as he returned the rebel home from Ethan Pinnock’s header only for VAR to judge him to have been a bit offside.
Shortly after the game moved out of sight of Brentford as Heung-min Son converted an impressive move. Former Arsenal midfielder Josh Da Silva looked red for a rash tackle on Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg as Brentford’s first major cup semi-final ended frustratingly.
Read on for the most important talking points from the game.
Spores need awakening to avoid familiar problems
Another early goal from Tottenham was almost a double-edged sword for Jose Mourinho. The manager has previously complained about how his side retreats into their shells when they hit early, a habit that costs them two points against Crystal Palace and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
So when Sissoko got up to swing home Sergio Reguilon’s delicate cross from the left flank, it was most exciting how the Spurs would maintain their position in the rise, especially as Brentford had proved before the 12th minute that they were more than capable of to keep to oneself. For the most part, they did it more efficiently than they have in recent weeks, and the moments they were beaten back in their own box were often due to the quality of the bees as something else.
Perhaps Toney’s almost goal was the revival call required by the Spurs, from the moment VAR denied their visitors the verve that was missing from so many of their attacks in advance was immediately apparent. Its timing was perfect against an opponent who had put so much into the quest for parity. Son then went into the fight in his usual way. A clinical run and strike was enough to tear the heart out of Brentford and secure a first domestic last berth since 2015.
Brentford prove their worth
A knee-jerk reaction could have been all that denied Brentford a first major final in their history. Tottenham could have had few complaints if the Champions League had beaten them to shock, even though the result line looked like a pretty comfortable win for the Premier League hosts.
Even after Spurs’ opening goal, they took on their task with an intensity and energy that has been evident throughout Thomas Frank’s reign, examining the flanks with purpose, especially a left side where Rico Henry and Sergi Canos gave Serge Aurier all sorts of difficulties. , while Da Silva and Mathias Jensen gave at least as well as they came in the midfield match with star names.
Most impressive of all could have been Ethan Pinnock. Although the center-back could not keep Son in check, he manually dealt with the threat posed by Harry Kane, winning his fair share of duels in the air and never letting the England captain turn and move on with the ball. When he was in possession, he was everything one could wish for a modern center-back with the composure to bring the ball up the field and even hit the press.
Brentford manager Thomas Frank had promised to make sure his team was “bang on it” against the Premier League giants and for the most part they were. This was a game that turned on fine margins, ultimately in Spurs’ favor. Another night, VAR might not have felt that Toney’s goal was deserved, and momentum would have been on the side of the bees. Who knows what could have happened then?
Josh Da Silva: Perhaps inevitably, the academy from the Arsenal academy took the bull by the horns and faced a midfield filled with experienced internationals. His dynamism, aggression (which ultimately boiled down to a poor tackle on Hojbjerg) and calm in the final third are more than appropriate for the Premier League, expecting him to become the next Brentford player to dominate the backs. EVALUATION: 7
Tanguy Ndombele: Performances of remarkable swagger and audacity are increasingly just for the course where Ndombele is concerned, a perfect passage into Son’s path, the crucial moment of quality Spurs needed. EVALUATION: 7