In an engaging encounter in North London tonight, Tottenham Hotspur overcame Brentford 2-0 in the semi-finals of the EFL Cup.
The win puts Tottenham Hotspur into their first domestic cup final since 2015, but Brentford should come away from their loss with plenty of pride. They pushed Jose Mourinho’s men all the way and only some questionable defending – as well as a tight VAR call – lost them this game.
The scoring was opened by Tottenham early on, as some poor marking from defenders Ethan Pinnock and Mads Sorensen left Moussa Sissoko free to head a Sergio Reguilon cross home.
Brentford kept attacking though and thought they’d equalized midway through the second half – only for Ivan Toney’s goal to be disallowed by VAR for offside. Minutes later, the game was over, as Tanguy Ndombele’s pass played Son Heung-min through, and the Korean finished comfortably.
There was still time for some more drama, as a VAR call saw Brentford midfielder Josh Dasilva sent off for a nasty lunge on Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. But overall, Tottenham deserved their win and will now head to Wembley.
Here are five talking points from Tottenham’s 2-0 win over Brentford.
#1 So can Mourinho end Tottenham’s trophy drought?
When Tottenham fired long-time boss Mauricio Pochettino in November 2019 and replaced him with Jose Mourinho, many observers were shocked. After all, the Portuguese boss will forever be linked with Tottenham’s London rivals Chelsea after winning three Premier League titles with them.
Moreover, Mourinho was hardly renowned for playing the swashbuckling football that Tottenham fans love to see.
The mission statement was clear, though. Mourinho was seen as a serial winner, and he’d been brought to Tottenham to win them their first trophy since 2008. And now, less than two years into his appointment, he’s one game away from achieving that goal.
Sure, the trophy in question is only the EFL Cup – a secondary competition at best. But a victory at Wembley in April could well be the beginning of a long-awaited trophy haul for Tottenham.
Tonight’s semi-final against Brentford was clearly a favorable draw, with both of the Manchester clubs involved in the other semi. But it was still a potential banana skin, given the form of Thomas Frank’s team as of late. And yet Mourinho’s men navigated the tie brilliantly and came away with a deserved win.
So given Mourinho’s history with this competition – he’s won the EFL Cup on four occasions – would anyone now bet against Tottenham lifting the trophy in April?
#2 Brentford show their Premier League credentials despite their loss
Brentford have been one of the EFL Championship’s form teams this season, and they currently sit fourth in the table with a game in hand on second-placed Swansea City. They’ve lost just three matches in the league thus far, and in fact, hadn’t tasted defeat since October 24th.
That gave tonight’s match an even more interesting angle, as not only did it give Brentford a chance to make it to the EFL Cup final, but it was also a chance to once again show off their credentials against Premier League opposition. Prior to meeting Spurs, they’d eliminated four top-flight opponents from this competition.
And to be honest, even in defeat, the Bees looked very much like a Premier League side in the making. Their defense held strong against the majority of Tottenham’s attacks – despite mistakes allowing Spurs to score their two goals – with Rico Henry, in particular, looking outstanding at left-back.
And going forward – particularly in the first half – the likes of Bryan Mbuemo and Ivan Toney looked dangerous. Tottenham’s defenders had to be at their very best to keep a clean sheet. In fact, Serge Aurier’s challenge on Toney early in the second half was probably a game-saver.
Judging by tonight’s performance, barring a total collapse, Thomas Frank’s side seem highly likely to achieve promotion to the Premier League. And to be honest, with some more smart recruitment, they could probably thrive there too.