Chelsea put themselves in a dominant position to reach the Carabao Cup final, beating Spurs 2-0 at Stamford Bridge in their semi-final first leg fixture.
Chelsea saw plenty of the ball in the opening passages of play, and quickly got their noses in front after just five minutes. The Blues pressed Spurs backwards before a poor pass by Japhet Tanganga was intercepted by Marcos Alonso. The Spaniard slipped a superbly weighted pass in behind Tanganga to pick out the run of Kai Havertz, who fired past Hugo Lloris thanks to a big deflection off of Davinson Sanchez.
Chelsea continued to play on the front foot, while Spurs looked well off the pace, with Havertz and Mason Mount both going close.
The Blues lead would eventually be doubled in calamitous circumstances 10 minutes before the interval, however, Hakim Ziyech’s in-swinging free-kick from the right being met by the head of Tanganga, though his attempted clearance hit Ben Davies and deflected beyond the helpless Lloris to leave Spurs with a mountain to climb.
Spurs did have an opportunity to pull one back early in the second half, with Harry Kane’s free-kick forcing a save out of Kepa Arrizabalaga, though in truth it would be the only real opportunity that they would fashion on an underwhelming night for the North Londoners.
Chelsea controlled the game through to its conclusion but were unable to add to their first-half lead to keep Spurs in with a chance of turning the tie around in next weeks second leg.
Speaking afterwards, Thomas Tuchel said the result reflected the pattern of the game.
“It seems like a deserved win and it’s an excellent result as it reflects the game,” he told Sky Sports.
“We could’ve scored even more but this is football and it’s hard to score against a team like Tottenham, it’s hard to even create chances but we did create a lot in the second half – some huge chances so it could’ve been possible to score more so that’s the downside of it.
“It’s a tough match that’s not been decided yet so we’re going to have to work for 90 minutes with the same quality and same level of commitment again.
“The start was impressive, we had fresh legs but at the same time if you’ve not played a lot in the last matches like Malang, Hakim and Saul then it’s also sometimes unfair to put them in a big match like this and demand fresh legs but we rested Jorginho over the last few days, Romelu rested himself in the last game, so yes! We could see we were fresh and we never lost the focus or the commitment.
“The guys from the bench had a huge commitment and the lads who started were strong.”
Chelsea have beaten Tottenham in each of their last three games across all competitions.
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— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 5, 2022
The German has often opted for a three-at-the-back since his arrival at Chelsea last year, though sprung a surprise with his selection this evening.
“In the first half, we played 4-4-2 when we had the ball as there were no five players left to play a back five after Thiago Silva was ruled out. We took the chance to inform the team that maybe this was the solution for today.
“We took some minutes on the training field to work through the principles and I felt the team was very focused on that to do it right and we had some moments in defending when we created a back five.
“The team were very open-minded and we didn’t concede too many chances against them.”
The last week’s headlines have been dominated by that Romelu Lukaku interview, the Belgian having been dropped for his comments for the weekend draw with Liverpool. The former Inter Milan man has since apologised and was reinstated against Spurs, and Tuchel was once again asked about the 28-year-old.
“I thought Romelu played good, I was absolutely happy. I’m pretty sure he’s not affected by it and I see him on a daily basis, even in the last few days. He seemed to be relaxed and fine with the situation.
“Mentally, he’s moved on and Romelu can handle pressure. He can handle adversity. It was a good performance, he contributed a lot to our defensive set-up and created and had some chances.”