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  • By Yann Tear at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

No way back for Spurs as VAR triple-whammy helps smooth Chelsea's path to final

League Cup Semi-Final Second Leg

Tottenham (0) 0

Chelsea (1) 1 Rudiger 18

(Aggregate: 0-3)

It was a big, big ask before kick-off.

And after 18 minutes, it became a big, big, big, ask.

The moment Hugo Lloris’ understudy Pierluigi Gollini missed his punch and Antonio Rudiger nodded home a Mason Mount corner – barely 17 minutes into the piece – the jig already looked up.

Antonio Conte has revived the club since his arrival but is no miracle worker. This was yet more evidence, if any were needed, that he has inherited a limited side which is not in a position to compete with the best sides, as things stand.

Chelsea have been the bête noire for the best part of 30 years – that League Cup final triumph in 2008 one of the rare days when, for once it all went right for the Lilywhites.

Spurs really didn’t need the extra challenge of trying to claw back a 2-0 first-leg deficit and on the back of some internal strife in the shape of a record buy misfit.

Tanguy Ndombele, who cut a totally disgruntled figure in the unimpressive weekend FA Cup win over Morecambe, was not on the bench and may have played his last game for the club, if rumours are to be believed.

There was no Heung-Min Son or Eric Dier either.

Spurs badly needed to score first. Badly needed something to bite on. Instead, they were desperately just trying to get a foothold after conceding early on to trail 3-0 on aggregate.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg had a shot deflected over. Harry Kane stretched at the far post but could not quite reach Davinson Sanchez’s flicked header at a corner.

Kane, left frustrated in last year’s League Cup final defeat to Man City, has become the symbol of that long search for a trophy, which once seemed imminent under Mauricio Pochettino.

Spurs found no solace from Stockley Park. They had three VAR referrals which went against them and although they could have no real complaints about any of them, it summed up their malaise.

Five minutes before the break, Rudiger upended Hojbjerg as the pair raced goalwards. Ref Andre Marriner checked with VAR and the foul was deemed inches outside the box rather than in.

And early in the second half, another intervention from above ruled that Kepa Arrizabalaga’s last-ditch tackle on Lucas Moura was fair and not a pen.

Then, after the Chelsea keeper had kept out a firm Emerson Royal header, Kane had the ball in the net, only for another check to rule it out for offside.

If they hadn’t cottoned on before, Spurs did at this point. There was to be no way back.

They will be doing all they can to salvage some pride On Sunday in their next assignment - the small matter of the north London derby.

Spurs: (3-4-3) Gollini – Tanganga, Sanchez, Davies – Emerson Royal, Winks (Skipp 81), Hojbjerg, Doherty (R Sessegnon 65) – Lucas Moura, Kane, Lo Celso (Gil 71). Subs not used: Lloris, Rodon, Alli, White, Scarlett, Paskotsi

Blues: (3-4-3) Arrizabalaga – Christensen (Thiago Silva 66), Sarr, Rudiger – Azpilicueta, Jorginho (Loftus-Cheek 82), Kovacic (Kante 77), Hudson-Odoi – Mount (Ziyech 66), Lukaku, Werner (Alonso 66). Subs not used: Bettinelli, Pulisic, Saul, Havertz

Attendance: 45,603


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