Gareth Bale, Harry Kane Fire Spurs Into League Cup Semis
Gareth Bale and Harry Kane were on target as Tottenham moved into the League Cup semi-finals with a 3-1 win against Championship side Stoke on Wednesday.
Wales forward Bale made the most of a rare start to put Jose Mourinho’s team at the Bet365 Stadium.
Jordan Thompson equalised for Stoke after the interval, but Ben Davies put Tottenham back in front with his first goal since 2017 before England captain Kane sealed a comfortable quarter-final success.
Tottenham are without a win in their last three Premier League games, including successive defeats against Liverpool and Leicester which dented their title challenge.
But Mourinho, a four-time League Cup winner with Chelsea and Manchester United, galvanised his players to avoid an upset in the Potteries.
Tottenham’s most recent silverware came in the League Cup in 2008 and they remain in the hunt to end that drought after joining Manchester City and Brentford in the semi-finals.
Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock recently branded the Stoke’s away dressing room as a “pigsty”.
Stoke reportedly upgraded their facilities in time for Tottenham’s visit, but Mourinho’s description of the “very good tent” his team had been given hardly sounded luxurious.
The unglamourous changing area and wet and windy conditions suggested an uncomfortable evening could be in store, but Tottenham were on their game from the start.
Mourinho made seven changes from Sunday’s defeat against Leicester as Dele Alli made his first start since November 26 amid talk of a January move to Paris Saint-Germain.
– Mourinho rebuke –
Stoke were without four goalkeepers due to injury and ineligibility, so 37-year-old Andy Lonergan made his first start since March 2019.
Lonergan was called into action early on when he punched away Kane’s rising drive, but he was picking the ball out of the net in the 22nd minute.
Harry Winks’ inswinging cross reached Bale in the Stoke area and he guided a precise header past Lonergan into the far corner.
It was Bale’s third goal since returning to his former club on loan from Real Madrid in September.
Alli almost doubled Tottenham’s lead when he ran onto Kane’s pass and hit a low shot that Lonergan saved with his feet.
Mourinho went for the kill by sending on Son Heung-min for Bale at half-time, but it was Stoke who equalised against the run of play with their first shot on target.
Jacob Brown’s low cross found Thompson and he slotted past Hugo Lloris.
Alli’s wayward flick had conceded possession in the build-up to the goal and Mourinho was quick to issue a stinging rebuke on the touchline before hauling off the out-of-favour midfielder.
Mourinho’s instant action sparked a response from Tottenham.
Davies put them back in front in the 71st minute when the left-back’s 25-yard drive beat Lonergan and went in off the post.
Kane put the result beyond doubt in the 81st minute when he ran onto Moussa Sissoko’s pass and blasted a typically predatory finish into the roof of the net for his 16th goal of the season.
In Wednesday’s other quarter-final, Everton host Manchester United.
United are hoping to move a step closer to the first silverware of boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign.
Everton haven’t won a major trophy since the 1995 FA Cup, but are flying high in fourth place in the Premier League.
Manchester City, who have won the League Cup for the last three seasons, thrashed Arsenal 4-1 on Tuesday, while second-tier Brentford reached their first major cup semi-final with a shock 1-0 win against Newcastle.