Chelsea won a penalty shootout on a night of high drama at Stamford Bridge, overcoming Tottenham to secure a Carabao Cup final meeting with Manchester City.
After an enthralling 90 minutes which saw the tie end 2-2 on aggregate, the tie was settled when David Luiz scored the winning kick after Kepa Arrizabalaga’s fine save from Lucas Moura.
Chelsea, who have now reached 15 finals in 16 years in all competitions, will face Pep Guardiola’s City at Wembley on 24 February.
Blues boss Maurizio Sarri, who said after losing to Arsenal at the weekend that his players are “extremely difficult to motivate”, celebrated with his team at the end.
Trailing 1-0 from the semi-final first leg at Wembley, Chelsea were level on aggregate when the unmarked N’Golo Kante drilled in a first-time shot from 20 yards through three pairs of legs after a corner.
Eden Hazard, who Blues boss Sarri said on the eve of the tie “has to do more”, fired Chelsea into a 2-1 aggregate lead with an arrowed finish after being picked out by captain Cesar Azpilicueta.
Tottenham were without injured duo Harry Kane and Dele Alli as well as Son Heung-min, who is away with South Korea at the Asian Cup.
They failed to produce a shot on target in the first half but forced penalties when Fernando Llorente converted Danny Rose’s cross.
Sarri sparks response from players after criticism
On Saturday, Sarri was critical of his players after a 2-0 defeat at Arsenal left his side 13 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool with 15 games to go.
The Italian can now look forward to a Wembley final in his first season in charge after his team responded with a much improved performance to overturn Tottenham’s lead.
It was apt that Hazard should score such a vital goal.
On the eve of this game, Sarri said the Belgium forward “has to do more” adding: “I prefer him when he speaks with his feet.”
Hazard responded by starting and finishing a slick move which made it 2-0 and put Chelsea ahead in the tie for the first time.
Earlier, Kante had given the hosts the perfect start with a lovely finish as Tottenham found themselves on the back foot before responding with a much better second half display to send the tie to penalties.
Chelsea scored all four of their spot kicks – Willian, Azpilicueta, Jorginho and Luiz all keeping their composure.
In contrast, Tottenham missed two of their four kicks – Eric Dier, a World Cup penalty shootout hero for England in Russia, firing over the bar before Moura was denied by Arrizabalaga.
Three semi-final defeats in three seasons for Spurs
Kane, Alli and Son would almost certainly have been involved in the penalty shootout for Tottenham had they been available.
In fairness, Spurs looked menacing in the second half after being distinctly second best for large parts of the opening 45 minutes.
Substitute Danny Rose was lively and provided the ammunition for Llorente to haul his side back on level terms on aggregate.
In the end it came down to fine margins with Dier and Moura’s missed penalties proving costly for a club hunting a first major trophy since 2008.
Nine points behind Liverpool in the league and out of the EFL Cup, Tottenham’s most realistic hopes of a trophy this season rest with the FA Cup, although they are still in the Champions League and have a last-16 tie with Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund.
Spurs reached the EFL Cup final in Mauricio Pochettino’s first season in charge.
However, they have now lost a domestic cup semi-final for the third successive campaign having lost at this stage in the FA Cup last season and in 2016-17.
The Argentine, who celebrates his fifth anniversary at Spurs in May, now has the task of lifting his players after this disappointment.
Sarri joins elite club – the stats
- Maurizio Sarri is the sixth manager to take Chelsea to a League Cup final and just the fourth to do it in his first season in charge.
- Chelsea have reached the final of the competition for the eighth time.
- This was the third time Spurs have failed to progress from the semi-final of the competition having won the first leg.
- In all competitions, Chelsea have lost none of the 46 games in which Eden Hazard has scored in at Stamford Bridge.
- N’Golo Kante has scored four goals in 30 appearances for Chelsea in all competitions this season – as many as he netted in his past three seasons in England combined (4 in 129 appearances).
- Fernando Llorente has scored eight goals in his last five starts for Tottenham in all competitions.
Both clubs turn their attention to the fourth round of the FA Cup. Chelsea entertain Championship side Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday (18:00 GMT), while Tottenham will look to avoid going out of another knockout tournament when they meet Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on the same day (16:00).