Paul Pogba has warned Manchester United they will continue to fall short of winning the "big stuff" if they do not improve on "details" after losing to Manchester City in the EFL Cup semi-final thanks to two set-pieces.

City became only the second side to reach four successive finals in the competition on Wednesday, while it was a third semi-final elimination in four EFL Cup campaigns for United.

On top of that, it was a fourth consecutive semi-final defeat for United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer across all competitions, having fallen to City in the same competition in 2019-20 as well as losing to Chelsea and Sevilla in the FA Cup and Europa League respectively.

United have made undoubted progress under Solskjaer, as evidenced by the fact a point against Burnley next Tuesday will take them top of the Premier League for the first time since the opening day of the 2018-19 season – their 2-1 win over Leicester City was the only game that day.

But Pogba has warned United they will not win the biggest matches if they do not sharpen up around certain situations, with City's two goals on Wednesday coming from dead-ball situations.

Speaking to MUTV, the France international said: "It is disappointing because it is not the first one against City at home. We are disappointed with the result, obviously, with the two goals from set-pieces.

"It is very annoying to lose because there is a trophy behind all of this. We have to do better, we have to do better for sure. It is about details.

"Details make the difference all of the time and now when it is big games like this, it is details and at set-pieces we lost. We have to learn because it is not the first time.

"We have to learn, we have to get through this because, after this, there are big games coming up. Next time, we will do better, we will do better.

"We are improving. Last year they [City] were obviously more dominant and they dominated us [in the first leg of the EFL Cup semi-final]. That wasn't the case [this time], so obviously we are improving.

"We are improving in the league and, even though we lost in the semi-final, we are still going far and that is what we want. But now it is about details. It is good to improve but we have to go to the next step now, all of us."

Up next for United at the weekend is an FA Cup clash with Championship side Watford, before then going to Burnley for their rearranged fixture from the start of the season on Tuesday, and a top-of-the-table showdown with Liverpool follows that.

Pogba looked to remind the team that they cannot afford to mope in the wake of defeat to City given the importance of the games on the horizon.

"There is no time to be disappointed for a week because we know where we are. We are in a good position now. We don't have time to be disappointed. We don't have the time. We will get through this and we will go again," he added.

"It is difficult, and it is going to be difficult, and you learn from these games. It is going to hopefully help us to get through, to get better and to have a positive result in the next games.

"Football and playing for Man United is not easy, it will never be easy, but it makes the victory prettier and more beautiful when we get through a tough time, then we get through this.

"It is beautiful, and you get the emotion. That is all we want. That is what the fan wants, that is what the team wants, everyone wants this. The club is built on winning and big things, so that is all we want to get – the big stuff."

Pep Guardiola said John Stones had proven he belongs at Manchester City after a derby win over United in the EFL Cup semi-finals.

Stones scored his first City goal since November 2017 and Fernandinho sealed a 2-0 win at Old Trafford on Wednesday as the three-time defending champions booked a spot in the final against Tottenham.

The City defender, who was relieved to see the flag raised after the ball bounced off him and into his own net during the semi-final, has been in good form this season, and his six possessions gained against United were the equal best for his side.

City manager Guardiola was full of praise for Stones, who had appeared on the outer at the club before beginning to impress.

"He came back and he made another outstanding performance – but the most important thing is he can do something he hasn't been able to do – play four, five, six games in a row. This is important," he told a news conference.

"He had to handle [Marcus] Rashford, who is dangerous and clever, and the quality of his passes to Joao [Cancelo] were outstanding. All the team, Fernandinho, our captain, what a performance again. He read the game incredibly well, he moved the team. Outstanding.

"All the players – [Ilkay] Gundogan, Raheem [Sterling], Phil [Foden] ... all the team."

Guardiola added: "All credit [to Stones]. Football is a long career – it is up and down, sometimes bad moments. He was out longer than we expected but he came back and he absolutely belongs here.

"We can help him but when someone plays like this, it's credit to him. Hopefully he can continue in this way."

Pep Guardiola dedicated Manchester City's 2-0 EFL Cup semi-final win over Manchester United to club great Colin Bell.

Former City and England midfielder Bell died on Tuesday after a short illness, aged 74.

City's players wore retro shirts bearing Bell's number eight before kick-off at Old Trafford, where a minute's silence was observed.

When the action got underway, an absorbing contest at odds with a dour 0-0 draw between the sides in the Premier League last month ensued, with City prevailing thanks to second-half goals from John Stones and Fernandinho.

"It's for him and, of course, for his family," Guardiola told Sky Sports in a post-match interview which he conducted wearing a t-shirt featuring Bell's likeness.

"This person helped to build something special for this club that doesn't have many, many trophies in the cabinet. But that is not important.

"What is important is the legacy that players provide from the past and some of these players in the future. That is the club we have now.

"It is an incredible victory for us to beat United away and be in another final.

"But especially today, it is for him. Absolutely."

City might be considered to have "many, many" EFL Cups if they are able to claim a fourth in a row against Tottenham in April's final.

Guardiola praised his players for a notable upturn in form of late after they followed up Sunday's swashbuckling 3-1 win over Chelsea in impressive fashion, despite Scott Carson and Cole Palmer taking the number of positive COVID-19 tests among his squad to eight since Christmas Day.

"You are frustrated when you play bad. When the team don't run, don't help, don't celebrate every defensive action," he said, rejecting the suggestion he was unhappy after a goalless first half.

"The team is ready. That is why we came here with an outstanding performance.

"We suffered a little bit in the second half because we were tired after the game at Stamford Bridge. They had two more days off to rest but when a team has the mentality to do it we achieve something incredible.

"I know the Carabao Cup is not the Champions League but four times in a row reaching the final is incredible. I am so impressed by the quality of this team."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer put Manchester United's latest semi-final heartbreak down to facing "probably the best team in England" rather than a psychological issue after their derby defeat to Manchester City.

John Stones scored his first City goal since November 2017 early in the second half and Fernandinho sealed a 2-0 EFL Cup victory seven minutes from time at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

United had just two shots on target as they suffered a fourth semi-final defeat out of four since Solskjaer took over as manager.

City looked ominous once again as they extended their unbeaten run to 12 matches, setting up a showdown with Tottenham at Wembley, where they will be favourites to win the competition for a sixth time in eight seasons on April 25.

Solskjaer was disappointed by the way United conceded but gave great credit to Pep Guardiola's in-form side.

"Manchester City can score many great goals. You can accept that. When you concede two simple set-plays, it's very disappointing. Just not good enough in those moments," he told Sky Sports.

"We didn't create enough big chances. They didn't either. We didn't have the extra finesse we've had in the games lately, we weren't good enough.

"We played against a very good Manchester City team, they played well. When they play well you have to play very well to beat them. We were just lacking that little bit."

Yet Solskjaer does not see any need to read too much into the Red Devils' record in semi-finals during his reign.

"We're getting closer. This is a much better version of United than a year ago in those semis," he added.

"It's not psychological [losing another semi-final]. Sometimes you meet good teams in the semis. At the moment, City are probably the best team in England."

As Manchester City's players huddled around the centre circle in number eight shirts to pay a poignant pre-match tribute to Colin Bell, it occurred a Pep Guardiola team might never have been so fittingly dressed.

England international Bell, widely revered as the finest player in City's history, passed away after a short illness on the eve Wednesday's 2-0 Manchester derby win the semi-final of the EFL Cup.

Bell, according to the loud and often repeated refrain of the Kippax Stand at City's old Maine Road home, was the greatest inside forward that the world had ever seen.

A technically gifted all-round midfielder, somehow simultaneously graceful and powerful, Bell thrived in those dangerous pockets between winger and centre-forward to cause maximum damage in Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison's celebrated City teams of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The inside forward had long gone out of fashion before Pep Guardiola ushered in his era of "free eights". From Xavi and Iniesta, through Thiago Alcantara and Toni Kroos to David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne, City's former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss delights in filling his side with such players.

During Sunday's swaggering 3-1 win over Chelsea, De Bruyne was joined in the line-up by Phil Foden, Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva. That quartet of playmakers probably would have resumed duties together at Old Trafford had Silva not been suspended.

After paying tribute to City's eternal eight, Guardiola's team of number eights got to work. Where the league fixture on this ground a month ago was as stodgy as the pitches Bell graced in his heyday, the pop and fizz to the early passing was much more in "Nijinsky's" image.

John Stones ended his long goal drought as holders Manchester City secured a 2-0 derby win over Manchester United to set up an EFL Cup final showdown with Tottenham.

Stones has been outstanding at the heart of the City defence since forcing his way back into the side this season and he scored his first City goal in 1,162 days at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

The in-form centre-back had earlier put the ball in his own net early on but Marcus Rashford was offside, summing up how his fortunes have changed.

United were unable to respond following Stones' goal early in the second half and Fernandinho doubled City's lead seven minutes from time with an excellent finish.

Pep Guardiola's side were worthy winners, dumping their neighbours out at the same stage they did 12 months ago as they aim to win the competition for a fourth consecutive season.

 

 

Manchester City have confirmed Scott Carson, Cole Palmer and one staff member have tested positive for coronavirus.

The Premier League club have been massively impacted by COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, with six first-team squad members being forced to sit out Sunday's 3-1 win at Chelsea.

Ahead of Wednesday's EFL Cup semi-final clash with Manchester United, City have announced three more positive cases in the latest round of testing.

"Manchester City FC can confirm that Scott Carson, Cole Palmer and one member of staff have tested positive for COVID-19," a club statement read.

"Both personnel will now observe a period of self-isolation in accordance with Premier League and UK Government protocol on quarantine.

"Everyone at the club wishes Scott, Cole and all of our other colleagues a speedy recovery ahead of their return to work, training and competition."

Teenage academy product Palmer has featured twice for City this term in cup competitions, while third-choice keeper Carson has yet to make an appearance.

City previously had to shut their training centre following last month's initial coronavirus outbreak, which led to their trip to Everton being postponed four hours before kick-off.

Gabriel Jesus, Kyle Walker and Eric Garcia are all confirmed to have contracted the respiratory illness, while Ederson previously confirmed he was self-isolating.

Defender Benjamin Mendy was named among the substitutes for the Chelsea match, despite breaching coronavirus regulations by hosting a New Year's Eve dinner party.

Meanwhile, four Manchester City Women players tested positive on Tuesday.

Jose Mourinho labelled Son Heung-min a "special player" after Tottenham reached the EFL Cup final on Tuesday.

Moussa Sissoko and Son scored as Spurs recorded a 2-0 win over Brentford, who were reduced to 10 men after Josh Dasilva's late red card.

Only Harry Kane (17) has scored more goals in all competitions this season than Son (16) among Premier League players.

Mourinho lauded the forward, who had more key passes (three) and shots on target (two) than any other player against Brentford.

"That's the humility of a player. That's Sonny. That's the human nature. He's like that. Some other guys they are not like that. For him it's the team," the Spurs head coach told a news conference.

"For him, for [Harry] Kane, for Lucas [Moura], for many the team is first and of course we depend a lot on the characteristics of some players. Sonny is one of them.

"He had two chances. He had a good volley. I saw the ball in the net but unfortunately, I was wrong and the ball went out. Then he faced the keeper in a difficult moment of the game, where the game is open.

"The opponent is trying and pushing and he goes and he kills the game. So special player but also a special human being."

Spurs' next outing is a trip to non-league side Marine in the FA Cup on Sunday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer suggested Jurgen Klopp may have been trying to influence referees by discussing the penalties awarded to Manchester United.

Klopp felt Liverpool should have been awarded a penalty during Monday's 1-0 loss to Southampton, while highlighting how many spot-kicks United were awarded.

Under Klopp, Liverpool have been awarded 46 penalties in all competitions, including 30 in the Premier League. In that same time frame, and under three different managers, United have won 67.

Since Solskjaer became United manager in December 2018, United have been given 42 – with 27 in the league. Liverpool have had just 19 spot-kicks in all competitions in that time.

But Solskjaer, whose side host Manchester City in the EFL Cup semi-finals on Wednesday, dismissed the talk about United's penalties.

"That's a fact, probably. That's probably going to be my answer – that's a fact that we’ve got more than them," the United manager told reporters.

"But maybe they should… well, we’ve had… I don’t know how many penalties they've had. I don't count how many penalties they have.

"So, if they want to spend time on worrying about when we get fouled in the box then I don't spend time on that."

Solskjaer suggested Klopp was trying to influence referees by discussing United's penalty record.

"I can't talk on behalf of other managers, why they say things like this," he said.

"Obviously I felt it worked last year in the FA Cup semi because Frank [Lampard, Chelsea head coach] spoke about it.

"We had a nailed-on penalty that we should have had and didn't get, so maybe it's a way of influencing referees."

Jose Mourinho hailed a win of huge importance after Tottenham overcame Brentford 2-0 to reach the EFL Cup final.

Moussa Sissoko and Son Heung-min were on target to see Spurs past their Championship opponents, who finished with 10 men after Josh Dasilva was dismissed for a challenge that left Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg with a gashed shin.

Tottenham have not won a piece of major silverware since lifting this trophy back in 2008 and it is a competition Mourinho has won four times.

The last of those came with Manchester United in 2017, with his former club taking on holders Manchester City in Wednesday's semi-final.

"It's a game that takes us to a final. Probably, I hope not, but probably an empty Wembley final but a Wembley final," Mourinho told Sky Sports, casting doubt on the EFL's ambitions to have a crowd at its rearranged April showpiece.

"I'm very, very happy with that. Of course we had matches this year against the biggest clubs in the country, we had London derbies, but this one is one that got us in a final

"I would consider that a very important match for us. Now we have this final in the pocket for a few months.

"We have to forget it and focus on what we have to play in the FA Cup, the Premier League and Europa League."

Brentford fell foul of a marginal VAR offside call when Ivan Toney thought he had equalised after the hour and Mourinho conceded it was not a vintage Tottenham display.

"Solid enough to win," he said. "The game was way under control. They had an offside goal and one penetration on the right-hand side.

"We did not play brilliantly with the ball. Sometimes the wrong decision, sometimes one more touch and not that soft control that allows you to play fast.

"But the game was always under control against a team who are probably coming here next year to play in the Premier League."

Manchester City will seek to reassert themselves against Manchester United in Wednesday's EFL Cup semi-final, with their status as the leading team in the rivalry for much of the past decade a source of pride to Pep Guardiola.

City have not finished below their neighbours in the Premier League since United's most recent Premier League title success in 2012-13, winning three subsequent top-flight crowns themselves.

Two of those came under Guardiola, United finishing a distant second in 2017-18 as City racked up a record-breaking 100-point haul.

The sides also met at the same stage of the EFL Cup last season, as City prevailed en route to a third consecutive Wembley success in the competition, although there have been signs that the local argument is starting to turn of late.

“United has always been a big club," Guardiola said. "When I faced them with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and here, it was always important.

"It is a rivalry in the city and for many decades United was above Manchester City. For us, we are incredibly proud and it is an honour for the last decade to be there with them and sometimes win, most of the times, and sometimes lose."

A 3-1 first-leg triumph in last season's semi-final is City's only victory in the most recent five Manchester derbies.

United restored pride and caused nerves to jangle with a 1-0 win at the Etihad Stadium as Nemanja Matic scored and was sent off in the return game, while also completing a Premier League double in 2019-20 either side of those matches.

Both teams have hit more impressive form since December's turgid 0-0 draw at Old Trafford in their most recent encounter, although it is United who sit level on points with champions Liverpool at the summit and have a chance to go top if they avoid defeat in their game in hand against Burnley next week.

"They have always been contenders," Guardiola said. "Every year, when we start the season, United is a contender.

"If it didn’t happen in the last few seasons, it is a question for them. It is no different facing United or other contenders."

City turned in a majestic performance as they dispatched Chelsea 3-1 at the weekend - a performance that was all the more impressive after a coronavirus outbreak robbed them of six first-team players.

Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus have now completed 10 days of self-isolation after having positive tests confirmed on Christmas Day, but Ederson, Ferran Torres, Eric Garcia and Tommy Doyle will remain unavailable at Old Trafford for a one-off encounter - the EFL having ditched its usual two-legged format to ease fixture congestion.

“We don’t have many players. To play one or two games is okay but if this sustains for a long time and I can only use 14 or 15 players it will be more difficult," Guardiola explained.

"Like everyone in the world, we adapt, you have to adjust our lives and our professions as much as possible and we don’t have an alternative.

"The most important thing is that the guys who have COVID can recover well and the guys handle it well and try to avoid it as much as possible."

City will be in action for the first time since the death of club great Colin Bell, who passed away after a short illness, aged 74.

Players past and present lined up to pay tribute to Bell on Tuesday, with former City captain Vincent Kompany tweeting: "So very sad to hear [of] Colin Bell's passing. Heard all about The King!

"A true Manchester City legend. This man was on another level, if only I could have seen him play. Incredibly kind and humble when I met him."

Tottenham booked a place in the EFL Cup final as Moussa Sissoko and Son Heung-min got the goals in a 2-0 victory over Brentford.

Thomas Frank's Championship promotion-chasers headed into the match bolstered by a 16-match unbeaten run and victories over four other Premier League sides in this season's competition, but Sissoko's 12th-minute header punctured any early enthusiasm.

The visitors posed enough questions of Spurs in their usual eloquent style and Ivan Toney had a 63rd-minute header disallowed for offside.

Son then streaked clear of their defence to hammer home his 16th goal of the season and grant Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho his latest shot at silverware.

Brentford finshed with 10 men after Josh Dasilva's ugly lunge caught Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

They had given themselves an uphill task by allowing Sissoko far too much room to glance home Sergio Reguilon's left-wing cross in a first half of few chances.

Toney outmuscled Davinson Sanchez to get on the end of Bryan Mbeumo's floated 34th-minute delivery, although Hugo Lloris was equal to a looping header.

The Brentford striker arguably caused his own goalkeeper more discomfort when Lucas Moura's header from Son's corner spun off Toney, with David Raya saving superbly as he tumbled backwards to his left.

Serge Aurier made a vital last-ditch challenge to thwart Toney after Mbeumo got the better of Sanchez five minutes into the second half.

Aurier and Son spurned presentable chances and Toney thought he had equalised for Brentford, only for a VAR review to show he was fractionally offside.

That close shave roused Spurs from their second-half torpor and Harry Kane combined with Tanguy Ndombele for the latter to slide Son through for an emphatic finish.

A spirited Brentford were sapped by that strike and needed another impressive intervention from Raya to prevent Kane from adding further gloss to the scoreline.

Dasilva was deservedly dismissed six minutes from time after leaving Hojbjerg with an ugly gash on his shin.

What does it mean? Mourinho's League Cup love affair continues

Mourinho has lifted the three-handled trophy on four occasions and it was his first honour in English football with Chelsea back in 2005. It was also the last major prize Spurs were able to collect, back in 2008. Victory over either of the other semi-final combatants - his former club Manchester United or Pep Guardiola and holders Manchester City - would surely by richly enjoyed by Mourinho if he and his players can complete the job at Wembley in April.

What's next?

Both sides turn their attention towards the FA Cup this weekend, with Brentford hosting Championship counterparts Middlesbrough and Spurs travelling to non-league Marine in the most intriguing tie of the third round.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is convinced Manchester United have developed significantly since suffering three semi-final defeats in 2019-20 as they prepare to host rivals Manchester City in the last four of the EFL Cup.

Had things gone a little differently last term, Man United might have ended the campaign with three trophy successes, breaking Solskjaer's duck as the club's boss.

But, United lost 3-1 to Chelsea in the FA Cup semis, suffered a late 2-1 defeat to Sevilla in the Europa League and fell at the same stage of the EFL Cup to City, losing 3-2 on aggregate.

The elimination by City was particularly chastening given the manner of the first-leg home loss, as United were swept aside and somewhat fortunate to only lose 3-1 – the 1-0 away win in the second meeting was insufficient to save their hopes.

But it could be argued there is a different aura to this United side. They are level on 33 points with pacesetters Liverpool in the Premier League but have played one game less, and they head into Wednesday's game unbeaten in seven across all competitions.

The EFL Cup semi-finals this season are limited to one-game affairs rather than being split over two, and Solskjaer is adamant United are a different animal.

"When you get to a semi, you've done a lot of good work to get there and naturally you're playing against better and better opposition," Solskjaer told reporters.

"I think we've improved immensely in a year since the last semi [against City] and even when we were in Europe in August.

"For me, it's a step closer to get to the final, we've developed a lot, it's easy to say, 'have we learned?' But it's not about if we've learnt, it's about some fine margins in those semi-finals as well.

"When you win games of football, you don't think about it's a semi-final or a normal game or a league game or a quarter final, you just think about this game and want to win it."

United have faced City six times since Solskjaer was initially installed as Jose Mourinho's replacement in December 2018 and, perhaps rather surprisingly, has the edge over Pep Guardiola in their head-to-head with three wins to two.

Their most recent meeting, just under a month ago, was a rather cagier 0-0 draw that had few conclusions drawn from it by most, though Solskjaer still felt there were signs of United's progression.

They have every reason to be wary again, however – City have progressed from their previous five EFL Cup semis and lost only twice in 23 games in the competition under Guardiola.

"I've seen progress," Solskjaer continued. "Sometimes the results don't show the whole picture of the game, some of our counter-attacking goals in the wins we've had have been brilliant; in the league away when we won, we could have scored four or five in a 10- or 15-minute period.

"A few counter attacks there were out of this world but we had less control of the ball and defended fantastically. I think the last game was more or less 50-50 in possession, maybe a more cagey game from both teams but still I felt that was a progression having stayed more in the game.

"You never know what kind of system he [Guardiola] is going to come up with but you know you've got to defend really well against Man City.

"It's hard to keep the ball in their half, they find a way of overloading, so you've got to be brave, compact, trust your players.

"When we have the ball, we have to be able to keep it, play out of their press because they're one of the quickest to put the counter pressure on and win the ball high up.

"So, it's a balance. We've found that balance. We didn't have the 'X factor' last game, maybe because they were a little bit more cagey and set up to counter attack more as well.

"They've been some fascinating games and I feel we've got closer and closer and results sometimes you can't control."

Teams will be allowed to make five substitutions from nine players on the bench for the EFL Cup semi-finals and final. 

The change in the rule was introduced following consultation with Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham and Brentford, the four semi-finalists in the 2020-21 competition. 

VAR will also be introduced, having not been involved in previous rounds. 

The EFL added in a statement on Monday: "Each team is only permitted a maximum of three opportunities (excluding half time, full time and half time of extra time) to make substitutions during normal time. However, if a tie goes to extra time, an additional opportunity to use a substitute(s) will also be permitted but only from the five substitutes allowed." 

The decision comes despite Premier League clubs voting against the option of using five substitutes in a single game in England's top flight, a rule which has been adopted in other major competitions across Europe this season. 

City boss Pep Guardiola has been among the more vocal in his criticism of not continuing the five-sub rule, which was temporarily introduced into the Premier League following the resumption of the 2019-20 season after the coronavirus-enforced shutdown. 

City face United at Old Trafford on Wednesday, with Spurs hosting Brentford 24 hours earlier. 

This season's semi-finals will be one-legged and go to extra time and penalties if required, rather than the traditional two-legged ties, due to the congested fixture schedule caused by the disruption to the football calendar. 

The final was moved from February to April, when it is hoped some fans may be allowed to attend.

Jose Mourinho considers Tottenham's EFL Cup semi-final against Brentford on Tuesday their biggest game since he joined the club. 

Spurs take on the Bees at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after overcoming Stoke City in the last eight almost a fortnight ago. 

The club are now just two wins away from a first major trophy since they won the same competition in 2008, beating Chelsea 2-1 through Jonathan Woodgate's extra-time goal. 

Mourinho has won the EFL Cup four times – three with Chelsea and one with Manchester United – and is looking to become just the third manager to reach the final with three different clubs after Ron Atkinson (United, Sheffield Wednesday and Aston Villa) and Ron Saunders (Norwich City, Manchester City and Villa).

But he will have his work cut out against a Brentford side who have already eliminated four Premier League teams in this season's competition in Southampton, West Brom, Fulham and Newcastle United.

Indeed, the Bees are only the second non-Premier League side to achieve that feat in a season after Bristol City in 2017-18.

Mourinho, who has won 15 of his 17 home EFL Cup and FA Cup matches as against teams from outside the top flight, knows only too well the confidence boost a trophy triumph would bring and is determined to end Spurs' drought. 

Asked at a media conference if it was the biggest game since he took over at Spurs in November 2019, Mourinho responded: "I think so, in the perspective that the club has been chasing silverware for many years. 

"We had a match at Crystal Palace [last season] which gave us participation in the Europa League and that match was important. The only thing more important is finals.

"For me, every competition is important. I won the EFL Cup in my first season [in England in 2004-05], so for me, every competition is important; it doesn't matter where you are or what your ambitions are. 

"Especially for a club without silverware for more than a decade. If we win two matches, we win the trophy, which would be a very good thing for the club and players.

"It is not about me winning it five times with two or three clubs. It's about the players that want trophies and fans that want trophies. We just need two victories. 

"We have to look to this semi-final with this ambition and respect a very good team."

Mourinho confirmed Erik Lamela would not feature against Brentford but did not reveal if his absence was due to his breach of coronavirus regulations. 

Pictures circulated on social media of Lamela alongside Spurs team-mates Sergio Reguilon and Giovani Lo Celso at a festive gathering, with West Ham's Manuel Lanzini also in attendance.

The party went against COVID-19 rules put in place by the UK government as those present ignored social-distancing guidelines.

Reguilon was an unused substitute for Spurs' 3-0 Premier League win over Leeds United on Saturday, but there was no place in the squad for Lamela. Lo Celso remains out injured.

Asked if Lamela would be available, Mourinho said: "Not for me to tell you. Just to tell you that against Brentford he cannot play."

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