Townsend's penalty gives Tottenham edge in League Cup semifinals
LONDON (AP) — Tottenham relied on Andros Townsend's penalty to gain a slender advantage over third-tier side Sheffield United in the League Cup on Wednesday, taking only a 1-0 lead into the second leg of their semifinal.
Composed and disciplined at White Hart Lane, United had successfully restricted the Premier League side's attacks until the penalty in the 74th minute.
Tottenham striker Roberto Soldado brought down a deep ball from Jan Vertonghen and as he tried to control it, United defender Jay McEveley handled. Townsend netted his third goal of the season, with the trio all coming from the spot.
"We couldn't break them down," Townsend said. "We couldn't get through."
United, which has beaten five Premier League sides in cups in the last 12 months, hosts the second leg at Bramall Lane next Wednesday.
"We have to make it as uncomfortable as we can for Spurs," United manager Nigel Clough said. "They will be a little bit more wary of us."
The other semifinal between Chelsea and Liverpool is locked at 1-1 heading into their second leg on Tuesday.
United, which was last in the Premier League team in 2007, was playing its first League Cup semifinal in 12 years. But its recent cup exploits saw it reach the last four of the more illustrious FA Cup last season.
Despite being seventh in League One, the Blades did not look out of place in north London.
Clough expressed delight that his players didn't roll over. But they achieved more than that, frustrating Tottenham for much of the first leg and belying their very different place in the football pyramid.
Tottenham, which is sixth in the Premier League, managed just two shots on target: Eric Dier's first-half header at goalkeeper Mark Howard and the penalty kick.
Emmanuel Adebayor, captaining Tottenham on his first start since November 2, was ineffective, wasting his only scoring opportunity before halftime by stabbing the shot over.
"It was a very tough game," Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said. "They had very good organization and maybe we were wrong in the way we tried to penetrate and create chances."