Lucas Moura and Christian Eriksen miss in shootout for Tottenham
Wednesday 25 September 2019 06:28, UK
League Two Colchester heaped more misery on Tottenham and Mauricio Pochettino by dumping them out of the Carabao Cup 4-3 on penalties.
Long before the goalless draw went to spot-kicks Spurs had been forced to introduce Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela and Heung-min Son to inject some life into a poor performance from the Premier League club, but they did little to improve matters for Pochettino's under-fire side.
Lucas Moura had their best chance of the game when his free-kick from just outside the box forced a save out of Dean Gerken, but that was as much as he had to do until the shootout with Troy Parrott's second-half miss their only other opportunity of note.
Eriksen stepped up to take the first penalty in the shootout but was denied by the home goalkeeper, and after Moura's effort hit the bar from 12 yards Tom Lapslie held his nerve to beat Paulo Gazzaniga and send Colchester through, as Pochettino was knocked out by a lower-league side for the first time in his managerial career.
Tottenham's mix of youth and experience clicked well enough early on as they dominated possession without a cutting edge, but a narrow three of Moura, Dele Alli and Oliver Skipp behind Parrott looked uncomfortable when on the attack.
The closest the visitors came to a first-half lead came through their only shot on target of the opening period, when Lucas picked himself up after being fouled just outside the box to test Gerken with a powerful low free-kick which he was equal to.
Colchester failed to register an effort of any kind before the break but it mattered little to their fans, who were more than content to be holding a Premier League side at the interval.
After the break they came out of their shell a little, although they still failed to force any kind of save out of Gazzaniga over the 90 minutes - but more surprising was Spurs' toothless attack even with the introduction of Champions League final starters Eriksen and Son, as well as Lamela late on.
But bar Parrott lifting Eric Dier's dipping ball over the bar, and a couple of pot-shots from distance, they never gave Colchester anything to worry about, and the referee's whistle to signal the end of normal time was greeted by huge cheers from the home crowd, knowing their side's game-plan had worked to perfection.
In the shootout, Eriksen handed the hosts an early advantage when his low spot-kick was kept out by Gerken.
Substitute Jevani Brown let the visitors off the hook with a dreadful Panenka penalty which was so weak Gazzaniga could punch it clear after regaining his balance, but Spurs once again shot themselves in the foot when Lucas rattled the bar.
That left Lapslie the job of netting the winning spot-kick - and he did just that, beating Gazzaniga's despairing dive to find the bottom corner and spark jubilant scenes in the stands, which soon spilled out onto the pitch as Colchester reached the League Cup fourth round for the first time since 1975.
Speaking after the game, Mauricio Pochettino insists already planning to make transfers in January.
"We are working so hard to put everyone on the same page. Only we need time. January is going to be a good opportunity too to fix this situation and the next one. That is the problem when something happens that you cannot control.
"It means we are human and in football to keep the successful period in football you need to be different every season and find different solutions. We need to do something different and we will do that."
Former Tottenham player and manager Tim Sherwood told The Debate: "We have to start by giving Colchester some credit, because they beat Crystal Palace in the round before, but you think they're going to be fodder. You think they're just going to roll over but it didn't materialise like that.
"Tottenham just couldn't get anything going and didn't create too many clear-cut chances. I'm all for going for this competition when you haven't won anything for such a long period of time, and everyone should be going for this competition when you've got teams like Manchester City so strong."
Sky Sports' Ron Walker:
"Before kick-off, there was some anticipation among Spurs fans that Troy Parrott had been handed his long-awaited debut by Pochettino. But two hours later, that's been totally forgotten.
"This was one of the flattest Spurs performances you will ever see, and it can't be put down to youth alone - Lucas Moura, Dele Alli, Eric Dier and the like are all seasoned professionals at the top level, and not one of them left their mark on the game.
"Colchester defended well but they are 71 places below Tottenham in the league pyramid and Spurs' flat, laborious performance was as much to blame for this as their hosts' excellent organisation and defending.
"In isolation that would be bad enough but easy to forget, in the current climate of Spurs it's more concerning."
Tottenham host Southampton on Saturday at 3pm, while in League Two Colchester visit Macclesfield at the same time.