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Madrid aim to keep UCL run alive vs. Spurs

Five Aside
Read
 By John Crace

Dele Alli still not his best, but good enough to lift Spurs in Carabao Cup

A tap-in from inside the box by Dele Alli midway through the second half edged Spurs past Championship strugglers Barnsley 1-0. Manager Mauricio Pochettino only rested five of his usual Premier League starting XI for the cup tie but Spurs still struggled to break down a well-organised Barnsley defence. Clear-cut chances were thin on the ground as Spurs all too often looked to take one touch too many, and when they did come they were not taken. Even after Alli's goal, Tottenham struggled for any consistency and by the last 10 minutes they were playing out time.

Tottenham HotspurTottenham Hotspur
BarnsleyBarnsley
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Positives

Spurs found a way to win even when not playing at their best. Hopefully they can learn from that and take experience into their coming games at Wembley. They are also through to the fourth round of the Carabao Cup without 30 minutes of extra time in their legs ahead of Saturday's Premier League game against West Ham.

Negatives

Tottenham still appear unsettled when playing at Wembley. Their build-up play was uncharacteristically slow and they struggled to break down a journeyman defence. The quick passing and neat crossing that marked their approach last season has gone missing so far this year.

Manager rating out of 10

6 -- Talking down the importance of the Carabao Cup in the media before the match probably wasn't the best way to motivate his men to raise their game. Many of the players appeared lacking in spark throughout the first half and Pochettino's half-time talk appeared to do little to lift them. Taking off Fernando Llorente immediately after Alli's goal also seemed counter-intuitive. Even though the Spaniard hadn't been at his best, he really needs a goal to settle his nerves and feel part of the squad. Denying him the game time to get on the score sheet will only increase Llorente's anxiety.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Michel Vorm, 7 -- A good solid display. Made one important save early in the second half and he commanded his area well. Looked to have a good understanding with his back five.

DF Kyle Walker-Peters, 7 -- Made little impression going forward and some of his distribution was sloppy. But his defensive awareness was exemplary and gave Barnsley little joy down their right flank.

DF Juan Foyth, 7 -- An accomplished debut. He looked confident on the ball and when he did find himself under pressure had the skill to play his way out of the situation. Came close to scoring with almost his first touch with a header that went just wide.

DF Jan Vertonghen, 7 -- Made one crucial interception midway through the first half when the Spurs defence was overloaded. Was otherwise secure and unbothered apart from one wild clearance that went rather too close to his own goal for comfort.

DF Kieran Trippier, 7 -- Defensively he was assured, but his ability to cross the ball, which was such a threat last season, appears to have deserted him. All too often he either hit the first defender or skewed the ball too long. Did manage an assist for Alli's goal with a neat pass inside the area.

MF Harry Winks, 7 -- One of the few Spurs players who really looked up for the scrap in the first half. He held on to the ball well and was at the heart of most of Spurs' best moves. Faded in the second half as fatigue set in.

Dele Alli
Dele Alli's goal in the 65th minute was enough to put away Barnsley.

MF Moussa Sissoko, 6 -- Not his worst display by any means, but still far from the standard one would expect from a player that cost £30 million. Occasionally gave signs of his power but all too often his first touch let him down and too many of his passes went sideways.

MF Mousa Dembele, 7 -- Came more into the game the longer it went on and showed glimpses of why he is one of the best players with the ball at his feet. But for all his strength, he didn't create enough and couldn't find the killer pass.

MF Dele Alli, 7 -- Still a long way from his best of last season and now takes two touches where he used to take just one. He appears frustrated, as if he doesn't quite understand why his game won't click. But still managed to turn up in the right place at the right time to give Spurs the win.

MF Son Heung-Min, 6 -- Worked hard but to little effect and his decision making was suspect. All too frequently he either held onto the ball too long when other players were in better positions or passed when he looked to be in the clear.

FW Fernando Llorente, 6 -- His confidence seemed to ebb away when he sent a free header from a Trippier corner over the bar while completely unmarked. Thereafter he managed a few nice flicks but his first touch on the ground became far too heavy.

Substitutes

MF Georges-Kevin N'Koudou, 6 -- Brought on midway through the second half to provide some pace down the left flank. Promised more than he delivered.

MF Eric Dier, N/R -- Came on as a late replacement for Dembele to make sure Spurs didn't concede in the dying minutes.

MF Tashan Oakley-Boothe, NR -- Injury time substitute to wind down the clock.

John Crace is one of ESPN FC's Tottenham bloggers. Follow him on Twitter @JohnJCrace.

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