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Pochettino blames loss of focus for Tottenham’s cup capitulation

West Ham come back from 2-0 down to knock Spurs out of Carabao Cup

26 October, 2017 — By Paul Cowling

Carabao Cup 4th Round
SPURS 2 (Sissoko 6, Alli 37)
WEST HAM UNITED 3 (Ayew 55, 60, Ogbonna 70)

FROM a Carabao Cup canter at 2-0 up, Spurs were dumped out of it, as Premier League strugglers West Ham recovered to score three goals and reach the quarter finals.

No team had won away at Spurs after being 2-0 down since February 2004, and coach Mauricio Pochettino lamented how his side had lost their focus in the second half.  “We allowed them (West Ham) to get back in the game, as we had the first half under control,” he said afterwards.

‘Poch’ made 7 changes from the Sunday demolition of Liverpool, with Danny Rose making his first start since the end of January. There was also another cup start for 19 year old Argentine, Juan Foyth at centre half.

Harry Kane was unsurprisingly rested, meaning Fernando Llorente joined Heung-Min Song in attack. The pairing made an immediate impact, when they combined smartly and swiftly to set up Moussa Sissoko, who put Spurs in front on six minutes.

A goal up, the far superior Spurs side, toyed with the foam-filled Hammers. It was a boxer jabbing a dazed opponent. Another Tottenham goal looked on the cards. On 17 minutes, Kieran Trippier whipped in a pinpoint cross for Deli Alli, but Adrian easily tipped over the goal bound header.

Alli made no mistake however on 37 minutes, when his deflected curler put Spurs in complete control. ‘Two nil in your Cup Final’ chimed the home crowd billeted in the lower tiers of a half empty Wembley.

At this stage, there was just no inkling that the West Ham players would have the fight and the belief that they could get back into the game. The early stages of the second half seemed to be drifting into a deep sleep, with Spurs two goal lead safely locked away. But then out of nothing, West Ham pulled a goal back on 55 minutes thanks to Andre Ayew.

Forth conceded a corner, which wasn’t cleared. Edimilson Fernandes shot straight at Michel Vorm, who could only parry to an unmarked Ayew, who slotted home from cross range. Suddenly there were ‘bubbles’ everywhere, as the away fans sensed something.

That duly happened when yet another corner wasn’t cleared. Manuel Lanzini fed Ayew, who gleefully hooked home for his second, and the equaliser on 60 minutes.

Straight down the other end, Alli volleyed straight at Adrian. The game was a proper match-up for the first time and the crowd noise was cranked up a notch or three.

With another West Ham corner, Pochettino summoned Moussa Dembele from the bench, but by the time the Belgian was on the pitch, Spurs had yet again capitulated at a corner and were losing. On 70 minutes, Angelo Ogbonna leapt unmarked to head past Vorm. From 2-0 down, the Hammers had smashed their way into a 3-2 lead.

“In the first half, it was like the game was over, but you just can’t allow your opponent to get back in the game,” reasoned Pochettino.

“2-0 and you ‘messed’ it up” bellowed the away end. The Spurs fans were stunned into silence, save for the odd bang of frustration from a fist on a nearby fence.

Christian Eriksen joined Dembele up front, as Spurs scrambled to force extra time.  Spurs’ implosion from 2-0 up and cruising seemed to be summed up when the third sub, George-Kevin Nkoudou raced with the ball down the wing, but couldn’t control it and it trickled out for a West Ham throw in.

You sensed West Ham weren’t going to lose this now There was urgency of sorts from the home side, but more from the Spurs fans. With four minutes of injury up, Spurs were beaten.

What was supposed to have been yet another morale boosting Wembley win, turned out to show another season without the League Cup in the Spurs trophy cabinet. And that will irk Spurs supporters.

“We are disappointed and feel for the fans,” explained Pochettino. “But, I am not worried about losing momentum with this defeat. When you lose, you need to find another solution for Manchester United in the league.”

SPURS: Vorm; Foyth, Alderweireld, Davies; Trippier, Rose (Eriksen 81); Dier, Sissoko, Alli; Son (Nkoudou 83), Llorente (Dembele 72)
Subs not used: Gazzaniga, Sanchez, Winks, Walker-Peters

WEST HAM UNITED: Adrian; Kouyate, Rice, Ogbonna; Byram, Noble, Lanzini (Arnautovic 88), Fernandes (Obiang 77) Cresswell; Ayew, Carroll
Subs not used: Hart, Fonte, Chicharito, Haksabanovic, Masuaku

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