Tottenham 1-1 Chelsea (5-4 pens): Werner off the mark but Mount miss sends Spurs through

By Sports Desk September 29, 2020

Tottenham reached the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup after beating Chelsea on penalties following a 1-1 draw on Tuesday.

Timo Werner struck his first Blues goal 19 minutes into the contest at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and it looked to be enough to send them into the last eight for the 14th time in the past 20 seasons.

However, Erik Lamela, who started as a makeshift striker, drilled past debutant Edouard Mendy to give Spurs a deserved equaliser with seven minutes of normal time remaining.

The first nine penalties of the ensuing shoot-out were converted before Mason Mount clipped the outside of the left post with the 10th, allowing Spurs to progress.

Chelsea made eight changes from their Premier League draw with West Brom on Saturday, handing full debuts to Ben Chilwell and new goalkeeper Mendy, while Harry Kane dropping to the bench was one of nine alterations for Spurs from their draw with Newcastle United.

Sergio Reguilon's debut did not start according to plan, as the Tottenham left-back lost possession and was easily beaten by Cesar Azpilicueta, whose deflected low cross allowed Werner to fire low past Hugo Lloris.

Mendy was also given a busy first half in English football, just managing to stop Gedson Fernandes along with Kurt Zouma and then blocking Lamela's strike with his legs.

Reguilon and Mendy came face to face early in the second half, the Spurs man's stinging strike palmed over the bar after good play from Serge Aurier.

Mourinho threw on Kane with a little over 20 minutes left as Spurs maintained their pressure, but it was Lamela who levelled, slotting low past Mendy after working space from Reguilon's cross.

Eric Dier, Tammy Abraham, Lamela, Azpilicueta, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Jorginho, Lucas Moura, Emerson Palmieri and Kane all scored before Mount's crucial miss, as Spurs avenged their shoot-out defeat in the semi-finals of two seasons ago.

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    "Ridiculous" was a word used by Frank Lampard to sum up N'Golo Kante last week - and with good reason. 

    The Chelsea midfielder is back fit, back in the side and more or less back to his best, having missed 16 Premier League matches last season. 

    Kante's "quietly influential" form has helped Lampard's side to a strong start to the season that has left some to bill Sunday's derby clash with Tottenham as something of a title showdown – or at least a game that could well highlight which of the two has the best chance of dethroning Liverpool. 

    A win for either side will move them top of the table after 10 games, but Kante's recent performances might just indicate Chelsea have the edge.

    BACK WHERE HE BELONGS?

    In 2018-19, Maurizio Sarri preferred Jorginho at the base of midfield, with Kante generally shifted to the right of a three. 

    The system was hardly a failure: Chelsea returned to the Champions League, won the Europa League and only lost the EFL Cup final on penalties to Manchester City. Few, though, ever thought it brought the best out of Kante. 

    Since taking charge last year, Lampard has shifted Kante back towards the middle and, as can be seen from his average touch maps, 2020-21 sees a full return for the France international as the midfield anchor.

    N'Golo Kante's touch maps by season, from 2018-19 (L) to 2020-21. The shift from the right-hand side towards the base of midfield is clear.

    He is averaging 82 touches per 90 minutes in the Premier League, the highest figure he has ever posted for Chelsea, five more than in his title-winning debut season in 2016-17. He is also averaging 67 passes per game, more than he ever has before for the club.

    In other words, Kante is very much at the heart of Lampard's Chelsea.

    He is also back to his exceptional defensive levels in 2020-21, averaging three interceptions per game – again the most in his Chelsea career – as well as three tackles, his highest figure under Lampard.

    The caveat is his passes in the final third have dropped by an average of six per game compared to last season and by nine compared to 2018-19, but the creative talent at Lampard's disposal means the burden of attacking is no longer on Kante's shoulders.

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    If Chelsea's form is based in part on the performances of Kante, Tottenham's strong start to the season is very much built on the work of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

    Signed from Southampton for a reported £15million fee, the 25-year-old has established himself as Jose Mourinho's most important player behind the relentlessly brilliant Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.

    Through nine rounds of the 2020-21 Premier League campaign, Hojbjerg had managed more touches (809), attempted more passes (695) and completed more passes (619) than any other midfielder in the competition. He has also got stuck into 29 tackles, the third-highest number for midfielders this term and four more than Kante.

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    Kante has started 139 open-play sequences this season, eclipsing Hojbjerg (111), but that is about as big a difference as you will find.

    Of those sequences started by Kante, 13 have ended in a shot and two in a goal; for Hojbjerg, 11 have ended in a strike at goal and one has seen Spurs get on the scoresheet.

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    On Sunday, the winner of the battle for midfield control between these two could well swing the match in his side's favour.

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    Real Madrid were stunned 2-1 by Deportivo Alaves and lost Eden Hazard to another injury as Zinedine Zidane witnessed a horror show from his team. 

    Lucas Perez and Joselu struck as Madrid suffered a third defeat in their opening 10 LaLiga games this season, their title defence getting off to a rocky start. 

    Madrid had played 15 previous home games against Alaves in LaLiga, winning 14 of those. They lost the other game, a 1-0 setback in May 2000, but the Santiago Bernabeu was a fortress that Alaves had found hard to crack. 

    With Madrid in their temporary home of the Alfredo di Stefano stadium this season, it was a completely different story. Despite Casemiro grabbing a late consolation, coach Zidane was left to pick up the pieces from a worrying performance. 

    Alaves were handed a fifth-minute penalty when Victor Laguardia's header struck Nacho on the upper arm, and Perez found the left corner with a confident strike from the spot. 

    Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois then prevented a second goal, producing a sharp stop to palm away a chip from Perez who got in behind the Madrid defence. 

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    Toni Kroos was denied by a fine double save from Fernando Pacheco, after a shambolic attempt by Alaves to walk the ball out of defence from a goal kick. 

    But Madrid were counting the cost of Kroos missing out as Alaves stretched their lead in the 49th minute. Courtois tried to pick a pass to Casemiro, but it was never on and Joselu stole in to intercept and side-foot into the empty net from 25 yards. 

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    Shots from Rodrygo and Lucas Vazquez went narrowly wide as Madrid sought a way back into the game. Casemiro netted from close range after 86 minutes but they could not force a late leveller, Isco going close when he clipped the top of the crossbar in the sixth minute of additional time.

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    The Belgium international has been blighted by ankle and leg problems since joining Zinedine Zidane's Spanish giants from Chelsea 18 months ago. 

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    Hazard had gone down in the Alaves penalty area moments earlier, although it was ruled that no foul was committed. 

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    It was just Hazard's third LaLiga appearance of the season, after previous outings against Villarreal and Huesca. 

    Last season he started just 14 games in the Spanish top flight, playing just a minor role as Madrid won the LaLiga title in his first season at the club.

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