Moussa Sissoko and Heung-Min Son were on target as Tottenham eased into the Carabao Cup final after overcoming Brentford 2-0 on Tuesday night.
Sissoko scored his first goal since December 2019 to break the deadlock with a well-placed header (12), with Son's emphatic finish (70) doubling Tottenham's lead seven minutes after Ivan Toney's close-range strike was ruled out by VAR for offside.
Brentford's hopes of reaching Wembley were ended in the final six minutes when Josh Dasilva was dismissed for a dangerous challenge on Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg that was missed by referee Mike Dean in real-time, with the red card shown upon review.
Tottenham have been chasing silverware for 13 years, since lifting this trophy under Juande Ramos in 2008, and they will now await the winners of the Manchester derby in the other semi-final on Wednesday, live on Sky Sports.
Tottenham: Lloris (6), Aurier (7), Sanchez (7), Dier (7), Reguilon (7), Sissoko (8), Hojbjerg (8), Lucas Moura (7), Ndombele (7), Son (8), Kane (7).
Subs: Winks (6), Tanganga (n/a), Davies (6), Vinicius (n/a).
Brentford: Raya (6), Dalsgaard (5), Pinnock (6), Sorensen (5), Henry (6), Da Silva (5), Janelt (5), Jensen (5), Mbeumo (6), Toney (6), Canos (5).
Subs: Marcondes (6), Forss (n/a), Fosu (n/a).
Man of the match: Moussa Sissoko.
Jose dreaming of more League Cup success
Neither manager shied away from the magnitude of the game, with Jose Mourinho describing it as the biggest encounter of his Spurs career while Brentford boss Thomas Frank accepted this was "unknown territory" with the Bees seeking to reach their first League Cup final.
Frank promised his side would attack, with the added complication of 30 minutes of extra-time if the game ended all-square after 90 minutes - but his team's momentum garnered from a 16-game unbeaten run was spiked inside 12 minutes.
Sergio Reguilon was invited onto the ball down the left flank by Hojbjerg and the Spaniard had far too much time to pick out the ghosting run of Sissoko in between Ethan Pinnock and Mads Sorensen for a precise header beyond David Raya into the far corner.
It was Sissoko's first goal since netting in Tottenham's 5-0 victory over Burnley just over a year ago, ending a run of 36 matches in all competitions without scoring - and moments later, Son drew a smart save from Raya.
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This lesser-spotted London derby was Mourinho's 24th semi-final. The teams last met in 2000 - in the same month that the Spurs boss began his managerial career with Benfica - and the hosts were barely troubled during the opening half an hour.
Tottenham named a strong side for the Carabao Cup semi-final against Brentford. Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son and Tanguy Ndombele all started, with Jose Mourinho making five changes from the side that beat Leeds at the weekend. Serge Aurier, Davinson Sanchez, Sergio Reguilon, Moussa Sissoko and Lucas Moura were the players coming in.
Brentford made one change as they chased a first-ever League Cup final appearance, with Pontus Jansson replaced by Mads Bech Sorensen.
Ivan Toney wrestled off Davinson Sanchez to meet Bryan Mbeumo's cross but Hugo Lloris made his first comfortable save with 34 minutes gone.
The visitors had knocked out four Premier League sides without conceding from open play to reach the last four, and Frank's side began to slowly bare their teeth as Eric Dier's headed clearance was lashed back towards goal by Dasilva but blocked by Son.
On the stroke of half-time, Spurs nearly doubled their lead in fortuitous circumstances as Son's corner was glanced towards his own net by Toney, forcing Raya into rearguard action as he backpedalled and clawed the ball away from a certain goal.
Before the restart, Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp said: "Brentford have played on the edge. They've not quite believed they can get something out of this, and they have to take a few risks now. They've played within themselves and they're a better side than they've shown in that first half."
Sergi Canos, on a booking from the 14th minute, was fortunate not to see red when he chopped down Lucas Moura, but Brentford were denied a leveller within four minutes of the second period. Mbeumo wriggled free from Sanchez and drove into the Spurs box to set up Toney but his close-range shot forced a last-ditch block from Serge Aurier.
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Aurier then showed the attacking side to his game as he ran onto Moura's pass inside to escape Mathias Jensen but his shot cleared Raya's crossbar. On the hour mark, Vitaly Janelt was very nearly punished for over-playing in defence as Sissoko nipped in and crossed for Son to volley a yard wide.
Getting to this stage was an achievement no previous Brentford side in the club's 131-year history had managed, and they thought they had restored parity when Toney converted from close range after Pinnock's header had initially been saved by Lloris - but VAR Peter Bankes confirmed to referee Dean that the Brentford striker was fractionally beyond Sissoko, Spurs' last defender.
Seven minutes later, Spurs found the elusive second goal to put the tie to bed. Hojbjerg was typically involved to start the move as he fed Harry Kane, and once the England captain had picked out Tanguy Ndombele, Son was on his way.
The South Korean was too fast for Henrik Dalsgaard and his shot too powerful for Raya with his 11th goal in his last 16 appearances easing any nerves among Spurs supporters.
Kane ought to have made it three when he ran onto Hojbjerg's clever free-kick to be thwarted by Raya before Son turned provider for Ndombele but his shot from an acute angle smacked the post.
The night ended on a sour note for Brentford as Dasilva's poor control led to a reckless challenge on Hojbjerg, leaving a scar down the Dane's left shin. Red was the only option and Dean didn't require too many replays from the pitchside monitor to confirm the VAR decision.
It was an unsavoury end to a Tottenham procession. Mourinho is still competing for honours on four fronts this term, but the Portuguese has a long-held affinity with the League Cup having tasted success in England for the first time by winning this competition with Chelsea back in 2005.
The prospect of facing his former club or a date with the holders will be a happy accompaniment as he continues Tottenham's fight to end their long wait for more silverware.
What the managers said...
Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho: "It's a [win] that takes us to a final. I hope it won't be, but it will probably be at an empty Wembley. But I'm still very happy. We have had matches this year against the biggest clubs in the country, but this is game was very important for us.
"We now have this final in our pockets for three months, but we have to forget it and focus on everything else coming up. We have the FA Cup, the Premier League, and the Europa League. But when it arrives we have to be ready to go there and fight for the trophy."
Brentford boss Thomas Frank: "First and foremost I'm very proud of my team and I hope the fans are unbelievably proud. Until the first VAR decision where we were inches away from equalising I think we played an even game.
"We played with top attitude, we were brave and it's massive to come here to Tottenham's stadium and compete against a world-class team. I'm so proud of the players. But if you want to win a game like this you need the margins and we didn't have the margins. Then they showed their class with the second goal and after that it was game over."
On Dasilva's red card, Frank said he did not believe the foul had been intentional.
"Maybe it could be given but if you know Josh Dasilva I don't think he even got a yellow card before. I've never seen him go in physically into a tackle. He definitely didn't do it on purpose. I think he slipped and he caught him so that's it."
Man of the match - Moussa Sissoko
Sky Sports' co-commentator Andy Hinchcliffe:
"He scored a great goal but he's my man of the match not because of that. I feel he has epitomised the hard work and desire on and off the ball of the Spurs performance to get the job done."
The Frenchman completed 30 of his 34 passes and regained possession on five occasions, while he found a team-mate with two crosses combining well with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Tanguy Ndombele in Tottenham's engine room.
"We are all very happy," Sissoko told Sky Sports. "We've been waiting a long time for this moment. Today we played a great game against a good team. It was a good battle but we deserved [the win].
"We go to Wembley now. We don't know if it will be City or United, but it doesn't matter because we'll have to be ready either way."
Analysis: Big opportunity for professional Tottenham
Sky Sports' Jamie Redknapp:
"It's huge for Mourinho and for the whole club in trying to change their mentality. Now it's a big opportunity for him. They will have to play an incredible side, be it Manchester City or Manchester United in the final, but that's where they want to be. It's been over 12 years since this club won a trophy which is too long.
"They were professional and did it the right way, and they always had it in them to win this game with the likes of Son and Kane but it's a big win. Fans will all get brainwashed nowadays with the idea of getting into the Champions League and the money that it brings into the club, but when you look back at your career, you want to win trophies. So for Spurs, this is a massive statement.
"They've proved they can beat Manchester City and earlier in the season they demolished Manchester United. They can put this to bed now as something they can look forward to, and with how explosive they are up front, they can beat anybody."
Former Tottenham striker Darren Bent told Sky Sports:
"This is why Tottenham have brought in someone like Mourinho. If they go on and win it, this would be validation for the decision in letting Mauricio Pochettino go and bringing in Mourinho. When he got the job, I felt then they would go on to be a lot closer to winning trophies because he's a serial winner and he understands what he takes.
"That's now transcended onto the pitch and into the players. Spurs haven't won a trophy for a long time, but when you've got Mourinho, the mentality is seeping into the players. You can see how hungry they are to win one."
Former Brentford midfielder Sam Saunders told Sky Sports:
"Tottenham are a top 10 team in Europe so to come here and compete... and at 1-0 to have the goal disallowed, the game plan was working quite well. It was a big chance for Ivan, and with a bit of luck if might have been different.
"Set pieces was always a potential area to catch Spurs. Ivan will be disappointed with the VAR call but he will be more disappointed with the first opportunity he missed. He was just slightly off."
Tottenham defender Eric Dier told Sky Sports:
"Really happy with the performance. I think we had control throughout the game against a very good side. It's not surprising they have got this far in the competition but we made sure we were right in every way.
"In a cup competition, if you're losing, you've got to chase the game but I think they play very open football, so we did well to manage that and when we got our chances we took them.
"Since I've been here, we've been wanting to lift trophies that motivation hasn't changed. Some of the boys have been here a long time and desperate to win trophies.
"Everyone is aware it's been a long time, so I just think we are trying to win. It's fantastic to be in a final. There's a lot of football to be played but it's nice to take the opportunity to be in the first final possible."
On Josh Da Silva's red card: "It's difficult, I saw it once on the big screen. It did look not very nice. I think it's an unfortunate situation. I'm sure Pierre [Emile Hojbjerg] will be OK, he's a big boy."
Spurs on their way to Wembley - Opta stats
- Tottenham have reached their ninth League Cup final (4 wins) with only Liverpool appearing in more (12).
- Tottenham boss José Mourinho is just the third manager to reach the League Cup final with three different clubs (Chelsea, Man Utd, Spurs), after Ron Atkinson (Man Utd, Sheffield Wednesday, Aston Villa) and Ron Saunders (Norwich, Man City, Aston Villa).
- Brentford lost for the first time in 17 games in all competitions (W9 D7), since a 2-3 league defeat to Stoke in October.
- Only team-mate Harry Kane (17) has scored more goals in all competitions this season than Tottenham's Heung-min Son among Premier League players (16, level with Mohamed Salah).
- Josh Dasilva's red card was Brentford's second in their last three away games in all competitions, as many as they picked up in their previous 35 on the road.
The 2020/2021 Carabao Cup final has been pushed back from February to April in the hope that more supporters will be able to attend Wembley on the new date.
The match had initially been scheduled for February 28 but is now set to be played on April 25, with kick-off at 4pm, live on Sky Sports.
Tottenham are in FA Cup third-round action on Sunday as they travel to face Northern Premier League Division One side Marine at 5pm. Brentford host Middlesbrough at 6pm on Saturday in the same competition.