Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho admitted he was angry with Dele Alli during his side’s 3-1 Carabao Cup quarter-final win at Stoke.
Spurs booked their place in the last four thanks to goals from Gareth Bale, Ben Davies and Harry Kane against the Championship club and they are now just two wins away from winning the competition.
They made life harder for themselves as Alli attempted a flick during a transition, gave the ball away and Stoke went on to equalise with their first shot of the match through Jordan Thompson.
The 24-year-old was given a chance to prove himself to Mourinho, having found himself out in the cold in recent weeks, and that moment undid a promising first half.
He was substituted shortly after and Mourinho blamed him for the goal they conceded.
“Yes, for me a player that plays in that position is a player that has to link and create and not to create problems for his own team,” Mourinho said.
“In that situation, an objective counter-attack would probably end with a goal, and it ended with a counter-attack behind our defenders.
“We were unbalanced because when you are in possession you have full-backs out wide and another midfielder in a different line and they caught us in a counter-attack and they transformed the result of the game that was totally in our hands, so yes I am upset.”
Spurs were able to recover from that as Davies and Kane struck in the final 10 minutes to get the win they deserved.
Bale’s header had put Spurs in front midway through the first half, but the Wales international did not appear after the interval as he asked to come off following a calf injury.
Mourinho said: “Yeah, was his decision.
“Something he felt in the last part of the first half and he didn’t want to come out before the second half so he stayed. While he was walking to the dressing room he told me immediately that he couldn’t come for the second half.
“Something I think with (his) calf. I’m not sure as at that time I just want to reorganise the team and make the change.”
Mourinho has won the League Cup every time he has got to the semi-final, so that bodes well for Spurs on his fifth appearance in the last four.
With a one-legged semi-final and a Wembley showpiece all that is between them and silverware, Mourinho knows this competition is their best chance of ending their trophy drought.
“To win this trophy we need to win two matches. But they are two very difficult matches,” he added.
“To win other trophies you need to win more matches. The FA Cup didn’t start for us. The Europa League we are in the last 32.
“We are really far from getting there. In the Premier League I told you already what we are.
“But they are a very difficult two matches. If you win the first one you have to win the second.
“The teams that are going to be there are very difficult teams. Man City are very difficult. Brentford, for me, the way they play they are not Championship, they are Premier League.
“And Everton or Manchester United are one of the very top teams. But we are in the semi-finals and we will be there to fight.”
Despite being handed a way back into the game, Stoke never looked like they were going to win against a strong Spurs XI.
Yet, being understrength, boss Michael O’Neill said his side were not disgraced.
“We expected Spurs to come with a strong team, maybe not as strong as they stared with, they have got quality all over the pitch,” he said.
“I thought we took a lot of credit for our performance in the second half, we equalised with a good goal.
“In the first half we were placid and timid and didn’t affect anything at all. Spurs showed their class and quality with their finishes.
“We haven’t played against that quality in terms of their front three, we are playing against the highest Premier League quality. We gave a decent account of ourselves.”