Sheffield United vs Tottenham: Spurs will be careful not to repeat the Burnley near miss of 2009 against the Blades

Spurs fans may have a feeling of deja vu heading to Bramall Lane

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The Independent Football

As Tottenham Hotspur attempt to reach their first major final since 2009 on Wednesday night, taking on Sheffield United in the second leg of the League Cup semi-final at Bramall Lane, they will be warned by the memories of how close they came to missing out at the same stage six years ago.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side lead Sheffield United 1-0 through Andros Townsend’s penalty in last week’s first leg at White Hart Lane and, although the Premier League side would have preferred a strong advantage, go into Wednesday’s match as favourites against the third-tier side.

They will not under-estimate Nigel Clough’s side, following their scare against a then second-tier Burnley in 2009 before making the Wembley showpiece. Leading 4-1 from the home first leg, Harry Redknapp’s Cup holders were 1-100 on and appeared assured of a return to Wembley as they took the field at Turf Moor. Things did not quite go to plan.

Robbie Blake put the hosts ahead on the night before the break with a fine free-kick before Chris McCann and, with two minutes to go, Jay Rodriguez put the Clarets three ahead on the night and level at 4-4 on aggregate. Under old rules that would have been enough to take the Championship side through on away goals to a final against Manchester United, but a recent rule change meant away goals only came into effect after extra time.

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Jay Rodriguez makes it 4-4 on aggregate at Turf Moor in 2009

The teams played on and, with 118 minutes on the clock, Roman Pavlyuchenko side-footed in Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s cutback to rescue the four-time winners. Jermain Defoe added a late second to rub further salt into Claret wounds. Tottenham went on to lose to Manchester United on penalties in the final after a goalless 120 minutes at Wembley.

Tottenham drew the first leg of their 2008 semi at Arsenal before cruising home 5-1 in the second leg, while lost 2-1 to Chelsea in the first match in 2002, before another 5-1 home thrashing saw them through. In 1999 they were held to a goalless draw by Wimbledon only for a Steffen Iversen strike to take them through to the final, where they overcame Leicester City 1-0.

They have also impressed on their travels this season – losing just four of their fifteen matches away from White Hart Lane, compared to five defeats in front of their own supporters.

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Spurs eventually recovered to beat Burnley

Pochettino’s side will, however, take note of Clough’s recent exploits with the Blades. His side have beaten seven sides from higher divisions in the last year, and also reached the last four of the FA Cup last year, briefly leading before losing 5-3 to Hull City at Wembley. Tottenham have lost their last two semi-finals – in the FA Cup in 2010 and 2012 .

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