Townsend penalty gives Spurs the edge in Capital One Cup semi-final
PUBLISHED: 21:51 21 January 2015 | UPDATED: 21:58 21 January 2015
Tottenham will go to Bramall Lane with a 1-0 lead after Andros Townsend’s penalty secured a slender but valuable victory over League One outfit Sheffield United in the home leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final.
An impressive Blades side, who had only lost two of their 19 cup ties under manager Nigel Clough prior to kick-off, frustrated Spurs for most of the night at White Hart Lane.
However, visiting defender Jay McEveley was penalised for handball 16 minutes from time and Townsend stepped up to break the deadlock.
The return leg of the tie will take place next Wednesday, with the winners facing Chelsea or Liverpool in the Wembley final.
There were five changes to the Spurs side that had lined up against Sunderland on Saturday. Ryan Mason returned from injury and Emmanuel Adebayor not only made his first start since November 9 but also wore the armband.
Michel Vorm, Ben Davies and Townsend came into the team, while Kyle Walker kept his place from the weekend and faced his former club.
The kick-off was delayed by 15 minutes, until 8pm, because United got stuck in traffic and were late to arrive at White Hart Lane, taking two and a half hours to make the five-mile journey from their hotel in Islington.
When the game eventually got under way, Tottenham were largely frustrated by their well-organised and hard-working visitors, who had the first shot as captain Michael Doyle blazed a 25-yard effort well over the bar.
Spurs skipper Adebayor was booked for clumsily putting a hand in Louis Reed’s face, and Lilywhites fan Jamal Campbell-Ryce unsettled his boyhood club further, running at Davies and sending a dangerous low cross in front of the goalmouth.
It took Tottenham almost 25 minutes to test Blades keeper Mark Howard but, eventually, Townsend sent in an inswinging free kick from the right and Eric Dier got up to head at goal, forcing the visiting custodian to push the ball away.
Spurs created a better chance in the 35th minute as Eriksen freed Adebayor with a perfectly-weighted ball over the top. The forward’s first touch on the edge of the box was equally good but he then shot wastefully over the bar from 12 yards.
United also went close at the other end five minutes later as Davies gave the ball away on his own area and Stefan Scougall let rip from 20 yards, watching as the ball flew just wide with Vorm at full stretch.
As the first half entered injury-time, Townsend delivered another inswinging free kick and Dier got his head on the ball again – but this time it crept wide of the target.
Spurs continued to struggle to break their visitors down after the interval and, in the 65th minute, Mauricio Pochettino made a double change, swapping Adebayor and Mason for Roberto Soldado and Mousa Dembele.
Tottenham finally got a chance to break, but Townsend’s shot was blocked and, from the ensuing corner, Kane’s effort also struck a defender.
The breakthrough came in the 74th minute. Jan Vertonghen chipped the ball in to Soldado and, when the Spaniard controlled the ball, McEveley hit it with his hand. Referee Neil Swarbrick pointed to the spot and Townsend stepped up to beat Howard from 12 yards.
Jamie Murphy shot wide from the edge of the box for the Blades in injury-time, but Spurs held their lead until the final whistle.
Tottenham: Vorm, Walker, Dier, Vertonghen, Davies, Stambouli (Paulinho 75), Mason (Dembele 65), Townsend, Kane, Eriksen, Adebayor (Soldado 65).
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