TOTTENHAM manager Mauricio Pochettino has warned his team they will have to win at Bramall Lane next week to earn a place at Wembley after meeting stubborn resistance in the Capital One Cup semi-final first leg last night.
Spurs needed a second-half penalty from Andros Townsend to breach League One’s serial giant-killers Sheffield United and earn the narrowest of advantages to take up the M1 for next week’s return leg.
“We need to go to Sheffield next week and we need to deserve to go through the semi-final -– and for that we need to win the game in Sheffield too. This is my idea, my mentality,” said Pochettino.
“It was a very tough game. If Sheffield United is in the semi-final it’s because they deserve to be. It was difficult, very difficult in the first half to create chances, because they play very deep and have good organisation.
“We were wrong in way we tried to penetrate and create chances. In the second half I think we improved our performance and created some chances, and I think we deserved the victory.”
United manager Nigel Clough refused to blame defeat on his side’s delayed arrival due to traffic, which caused kick-off to be put back 15 minutes, and had no complaints about the penalty, but looked forward to home advantage in the second leg
“It’s a little bit mixed emotions; we’d have probably taken it [1-0] at the start of the night but the way it panned out we’re disappointed not to come away with a draw,” he said.
“We restricted them to a handful of chances and we’re still in the game. You’ve seen the noise that 4,000 travelling fans make; there will be 24,000 there next week so they’ll make more.”
Tottenham made four changes to the team that beat Sunderland on Saturday, naming Emmanuel Adebayor as captain in the absence of Younes Kaboul and Hugo Lloris, on the striker’s first start since 2 November.
Adebayor's return failed to inspire Tottenham and the industrious visitors frustrated the hosts in a tepid opening half in which Eric Dier’s header, tipped wide by Mark Howard, was their only attempt of note.
Pochettino threw on goal-shy forward Roberto Soldado and the Spaniard quickly earned a penalty when Jay McEveley accidentally handled while jockeying him.
England winger Townsend converted the spot-kick, despite Howard guessing right and almost keeping it out, to register his third Spurs goal of the season.