Sheffield (United Kingdom) (AFP), By James McMath
Mauricio Pochettino said he was proud of his Tottenham Hotspur players after they reached the League Cup final but challenged his players to learn to “kill games”.
Tottenham will face London rivals Chelsea at Wembley on March 1 after prevailing 3-2 against Sheffield United over two legs in the semi-final.
Leading 1-0 from the first leg, Spurs looked to be sailing through against the League One club when Christian Eriksen whipped in a stunning free-kick.
But Nigel Clough’s resilient team fought back and two goals in as many minutes from substitute Che Adams had the home fans dreaming.
The tie was heading for extra time until Eriksen latched on to a through ball from the impressive Harry Kane before clipping a cool finish beyond Blades keeper Mark Howard into the bottom corner.
“We know that in England the special thing is to get to Wembley and play in the final. I’m proud of my players,” Pochettino said.
“The lesson for us is you need to kill the game.
“You play with emotion and sometimes we see what happened at Sheffield United.
“We have a young team and they will learn from that experience.
“In football, you need to kill and to score when you have the possibility because we created the chances.”
Tottenham’s trip to Wembley is their first in a final since 2009. They can take confidence from the fact that they beat them 5-3 on January 1.
Pochettino says the priority is the Premier League and Europa League matches that come before the final, but he is already expecting a difficult test against Jose Mourinho’s team.
“It’s one of the best teams in the world but the final is only one game and anything can happen,” Pochettino said.
“Before that we need to be focused on other competitions.”
Adams, 18, was playing non-league football for Ilkeston FC before moving to Bramall Lane and the goals were his first in professional football.
“He’s coming along nicely,” Clough said. “He’s quite raw but we’re hopeful for him.
“He’s got a few things to learn, such as not to slide in the corner celebrating when we still need a goal.
“He needs to go and get the ball out of the net and start playing again. We’ve told him that, so that’s one little thing he’s learnt.”
Clough has lost only two of 20 FA Cup and League Cup matches as Sheffield United manager.
He steered the Blades to the FA Cup semi-final last season and would relish another run in that competition.
Sheffield United face Preston North End in a replay on February 3 for the right to play Manchester United or Cambridge United at Bramall Lane.
“We’re still in two competitions and we’ve got a huge cup tie against Preston here with the right to play Manchester United.
“That’s the incentive now. We’ve got to try to beat Preston, which will be just as hard as it was tonight.”