Tottenham lost to Norwich City in a Capital One Cup tie that they controlled for eighty minutes but succumbed to the home side’s late revival. Norwich scored two quick goals in the last eight minutes and then goalkeeper Mark Bunn denied Spurs an equaliser by saving Clint Dempsey’s last minute penalty. Tottenham had taken a second half lead through Gareth Bale having looked the more controlled and composed team.
Norwich City 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1
Scorers: Vertonghen (o.g.), Jackson Bale
Team: Lloris; Walker (Defoe), Dawson, Caulker, Naughton; Livermore (Huddlestone), Carroll (Vertonghen); Falque, Sigurdsson, Bale; Dempsey Subs: (unused) Cudicini, Smith, Lennon, Townsend
Andre Villas-Boas took the opportunity to rest a number of players who have played without a break since the beginning of the season both for Spurs and internationally – Jan Vertonghen, Aaron Lennon, Sandro and Jermain Defoe. Hugo Lloris replaced Brad Friedel while Michael Dawson and Kyle Naughton came into the back four. Jake Livermore and Tom Carroll had the holding central midfield role while Iago Falque played on the right and Clint Dempsey took on the one striker role. Chris Hughton made ten changes to his team as he has done in the two previous rounds of the Cup.
The match started tentatively with both sides testing each other out. Spurs were the more controlled and the first threat on goal by either side came after seven minutes when following a period of patient possession, Falque played the ball across the field to Naughton and his cross from the left was headed past by Dempsey. In the opening minutes Gareth Bale saw little of the ball but on ten minutes a cross from Carroll, searching out Bale was headed out for the first corner of the game.
Falque and Bale switched wings with the Welshman suddenly becoming more prominent in the play and posing a problem for the home defence. A cross field pass from Naughton towards Bale was defended well by the Norwich defence. After twelve minutes, Morrison created the first threat on the Tottenham defence when he was played in but hesitated allowing Livermore time to get back and tackle as the ball ran through for Lloris to gather.
Spurs were constantly trying to switch play from wing to wing to release Bale and another cross-field pass from Naughton crated space for him but his shot was held by Bunn after sixteen minutes. Dawson then defended well, clearing a cross after Walker had been stranded on the right. Bale was continuing to look dangerous and midway through the half, his run and pass played Dempsey in but the shot went over.
Lloris calmly saved a header on the line from a Norwich corner that had been played to his back post. Walker and Livermore combined well on the right but Bale put Livermore’s cross to the near post into the side netting. Falque was creating problems on the right and from his cross, Bale played the ball back to Walker but he fired well past the post. Another Bale effort as he cut in from the right again found the side netting.
The first half had been careful and tentative by both sides and in the final minutes a shot from distance by Dempsey lacked power and was easily gathered by Bunn and the goalkeeper again collected the ball well at his near post from a Bale cross after the winger had been released on the right by Lloris and set off on a seventy yards run.
Tom Huddlestone replaced Livermore at the start of the second half and Steven Caulker cleared an early Norwich attack for a corner with a good tackle inside the area. Falque who had been a fleeting threat before the interval came more involved and Norwich had to defend well from his teasing cross early in the half. A great pass from Falque after 53 minutes to the back post put Bale behind the home defence but his shot was well saved low down by Bunn. Falque had greater freedom of movement and was roving all across the pitch to good effect. Carroll lifted a pass over the defence towards Bale on the left who couldn’t control the ball and it was gathered by the goalkeeper.
Tottenham were looking more threatening and their forward movement was more dangerous although when Naughton went forward and cut in towards goal, his shot was well over. Falque, however, forced Bunn to make an excellent save after a run and check inside as he made room for his shot. Another chipped pass by Carroll towards Bale was too strong and ran out of play. For all their possession and attacking, Spurs still hadn’t scored and with just over an hour played, Lloris had to react quickly as Morrison got through on goal but the goalkeeper was out to dive at his feet and clear for a corner from which he got a fist to the ball to get it away for a throw.
The breakthrough for Totenham came after 66 minutes from Bale who had always looked the most likely player to score. Naughton played the ball to Bale who cut in and shot low from the edge of the box with his right foot. After the goal Spurs continued to threaten and from a Huddlestone free-kick, Falque got the ball on the right and his cross/shot to the near post caused Bunn some alarm.
On seventy minutes Lloris made a good save from Howson as the home side started to pose an increasing threat having introduced Jackson and Tenney after the goal and later Holt. Bale struck a 77th minute free-kick into the wall and then fired the rebound at the goalkeeper.
With ten minutes to play, Vertonghen came on in central midfield to replace Carroll as Norwich threatened from free-kicks and corners. Lloris was much busier and was beaten after 82 minutes when a shot by Tenney following a corner deflected off Vertonghen into the goal. Two minutes later he saved from Morrison but was again beaten a minute later. He had saved Holt’s header from s free-kick but was unable to stop Jackson who put the rebound in from close range.
Two minutes later, Spurs were handed a lifeline when Walker was brought down in the penalty area. Dempsey took the kick but Bunn dived to his left and saved with a defender hacking the rebound clear. In added time after Dempsey and Turner had received treatment the last opportunity fell to Dawson but his shot from Sigurdsson’s cross was saved by Bunn, leaving Tottenham wondering how they had lost the match.
How Did Spurs Lose?
Tottenham had been in control for much of the game but Norwich showed a renewed interest and effort in the final ten minutes to score twice and progress to the next round. Falque showed much promise building on his second half display against Maribor last week but for Spurs Bale looked like the only player liable to score. With Defoe rested and Emmanuel Adebayor injured, Spurs’ lack of striker options is becoming a concern.
As I wrote in the match preview, ‘the result could depend on which team has the greatest desire to progress in the competition’ - and for the final ten minutes it was definitely, Norwich City.
Andre Villas-Boas commented after the game,
“It’s a pity to see the game slip from our hands. We had a good performance with good chances. It’s difficult to take – in the end we congratulate them. Norwich did well to get back into the game – credit to them. In the end, they took their opportunities in the final minutes.”
He also commented on Hugo Lloris’ performance saying that the goalkeeper had done extremely well with a good, solid performance. It will be interesting to see who starts in goal against Wigan on Saturday.
As Villas-Boas said, it’s back to the Premier League on Saturday, Spurs having lost to Norwich City in the League Cup tie for the first time. A win over Wigan at the weekend and this defeat will be quickly forgotten and consigned to the annuls of history.