Chelsea responded to the recent criticism from manager Maurizio Sarri by beating Tottenham on penalty kicks Thursday to advance to an English League Cup final meeting with Manchester City.
David Luiz scored the decisive penalty to give Chelsea at 4-2 shootout win after the team’s 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge left the teams level 2-2 on aggregate.
“I think the last three, four matches we had a problem,” said Sarri, whose side lost to Arsenal last weekend in the Premier League. “The problem was the motivation. The other problem was the players stopped to have fun on the pitch.
“Now, with the performance, with the result, we can find again enthusiasm. So it’s very important.”
Tottenham, which had been seeking a first trophy since the 2008 League Cup, saw its 1-0 advantage from the first leg wiped out in the 27th minute. N’Golo Kante’s strike which through the legs of midfielder Moussa Sissoko and goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga.
Eden Hazard, who was labelled an “individual player” and “not a leader” by Sarri on Wednesday, put Chelsea 2-1 ahead on aggregate in the 38th after meeting Cesar Azpilicueta’s cut-back.
“I don’t care, I just play my football,” Hazard said, “and it doesn’t matter what the manager says.”
Fernando Llorente’s header five minutes into the second half took the game to penalties.
In the shootout Eric Dier sent Tottenham’s third spot kick soaring into the stand and Lucas Moura’s weak effort was saved by goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.Advertisement
Luiz kept his composure to drill his shot low into the net as Chelsea reached the Feb. 24 final against Manchester City at Wembley Stadium, giving Sarri a chance to claim his first managerial silverware.
The wait goes on for Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino, who is yet to win a trophy as a manager. Pochettino, though, took pride in a performance which came in the absence of injured duo Harry Kane and Dele Alli, and Son Heung-min, who is on international duty with South Korea.
“I told the players that the way we came back after the first half, it was one of the best games we played,” Pochettino said. “We enjoyed the game, scored and had a few chances more.”
Tottenham has the edge over Chelsea in the Premier League, sitting four points ahead in third.