The scheduling of this third-round tie may have suited West Midlands Police rather more than Andre Villas-Boas but the Tottenham manager’s insistence that his team did not have the same chance as others in the Capital One Cup because of fixture congestion was shot down comprehensively by the players he selected for what he had described as “an impossible game”.
Even with eight changes from the side that won at Cardiff in the Premier League on Sunday, Tottenham were vastly superior to Villa, for whom manager Paul Lambert’s seven changes resulted in a performance that was disjointed and ponderous, at least next to Tottenham’s. Libor Kozak, his £7m striker from Lazio, was given his first start but made so little impact he was withdrawn at half-time in favour of the £1.2m forward Nicklas Helenius.
Tottenham would have been out of sight before half-time but for a couple of remarkable saves by Jed Steer, Villa’s shadow goalkeeper. But he was beaten by Jermain Defoe’s header in first-half stoppage time. After Paulinho extended Tottenham’s lead early in the second half, Villas-Boas was soon able to take off the Brazilian schemer with Saturday’s derby against Chelsea in mind.
Late goals from the £7m Belgian forward Nacer Chadli and a second from Defoe only emphasised the gulf between the sides.
The victory extends Tottenham’s fine start to the season to eight wins in nine matches across three competitions. A 10th at the weekend would confirm their status after the summer’s orgy of recruitment as a genuine rising force.
Erik Lamela, still settling into his new surroundings following his £25.7m move from Roma, made his second start, supporting Defoe from wide on the right. Tottenham’s speed of thought and movement from the start created gaping spaces for their forwards to attack.
It needed two superb saves from 21-year-old Steer to keep the scores level. He palmed away a ferocious Defoe effort on 19th minutes and prevented another goal after 38 minutes when Lamela connected with the excellent Lewis Holtby’s fine reverse pass. But he was beaten just before half-time when Defoe stole in to head home a clever pass from Holtby.
The second half began with a comedy moment as substitute Helenius, in his first action, ended with his shorts around his knees as he bore down on goal, courtesy of Tottenham’s stumbling Jan Vertonghen.
Lambert was even less amused a couple of minutes later as Paulinho arrived at the near post to turn home Holtby’s left-wing corner. Tottenham scored a third with five minutes left as Chadli ran on to Defoe’s pass and slotted in for his first Tottenham goal. Defoe danced around Steer for his second on the night in stoppage time.
Man of the match Holtby.
Match rating 7/10.
Referee J Moss (Tyne & Wear).