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Ahead of Tottenham’s north London grudge game on Sunday, this was a victory Harry Kane and Nuno Espirito Santo desperately needed.
Kane required only three touches at Molineux to produce a classy first-half goal which suggested his sluggish start to the season may finally be over.
Tottenham, last season’s Carabao Cup finalists, then secured an arguably fortunate victory on penalties to set up a fourth-round tie at Burnley after Ruben Neves, Leander Dendoncker and Conor Coady missed spot-kicks for Wolves.
After two successive Premier League defeats, in which Kane has appeared frustrated and lost after the collapse of his summer move to Manchester City, it has been a chastening ten days for Nuno.
Yet this was rather more promising from both their club captain and Tottenham, despite throwing away a two-goal lead, as they sneaked their second win at Molineux in a month under their former Wolves head coach.
After touching the ball just ten times in the opposition penalty area in the Premier League this season, Kane produced a brilliantly taken goal here which should provide Nuno with some hope ahead of Sunday’s derby at the Emirates.
It was classic Kane: one touch to take Dele Alli’s pass into his stride, another to set himself up and then the final one to drill a shot past John Ruddy.
It was emphatic and ruthless, those two cold qualities Kane is renowned for but which have been absent this season.
Nuno said: “Harry had a very good game, he has much more to give and it’s about the team improving and growing together.
“Let’s be patient with all our players and patient with the time that they need to get to the level that I truly believe their talent can allow. We spent a lot of time preparing for our penalties because it’s not luck.”
Wolves are yet to win at home under new head coach Bruno Lage and paid the price for a poor opening half-hour.
They must have feared a difficult night when Yerson Mosquera, the young Colombian defender making his first start, was stretchered off after just eight minutes.
His replacement was Coady, but it was the England international’s mistake which conspired to give Tottenham the lead.
Tanguy Ndombele advanced towards goal and Coady’s weak challenge ricocheted off the midfielder to send him clear in the area and he took one touch before sliding the ball under Ruddy.
Kane’s fine strike followed in the 23rd minute, as Tottenham ruthlessly exposed the home team’s defensive frailties.
Wolves finally responded seven minutes before half-time with a header from Dendoncker and were far better in the second half, equalising through Daniel Podence.
In an absorbing contest, Kane was denied a second goal by Ruddy’s excellent save from close range before Neves struck the crossbar for the home team.
Penalties were inevitable and while Kane, Sergio Reguilon and Bryan Gill converted for Tottenham, the hosts missed three with Neves lifting his spot-kick over the bar while Dendoncker’s was saved by Pierluigi Gollini, before Coady struck the upright.
Wolves (3-4-3): Ruddy 6; Kilman 7, Boly 6, Mosquera 6 (Coady 9); Hoever 7, Dendoncker 6, Neves 7, Ait-Nouri 6 (Semedo 75); Podence 7 (Moutinho 84), Silva 3 (Traore half-time), Hwang 6. Substitutes Moulden (g), Jimenez, Trincao. Booked: Silva.
Tottenham (4-3-3): Gollini 6; Tanganga 6 (Reguilon 90), Sanchez 5, Romero 5, Davies 6; Ndombele 7, Skipp 7, Alli 6 (Hojbjerg 82); Lo Celso 5 (Son 62), Kane 7, Gil 5. Substitutes Austin (g), Doherty, Rodon, Scarlett. Booked: Ndombele.
Referee: Peter Bankes (The Wirral)
Connolly makes most of rare start as Brighton cruise into fourth round
Brighton 2 Swansea 0
By Ian Winrow
Aaron Connolly made the most of his first start of the season by scoring his first goals in almost nine months as Brighton eased their way into the fourth round of the Carabao Cup when they will meet Leicester City at the King Power Stadium.
Had Swansea - Graham Potter’s former club - made more of a number of good chances, Albion would have faced a more testing evening. As it was, Potter, the Brighton manager, could be satisfied at his side’s progress, as well as the return of Tariq Lamptey after a long-term hamstring injury
"Aaron’s two finishes made the difference,” said Potter. "I think he took the goals really well and it’s great for him, good for his confidence because it’s nice for strikers to score. I thought he worked for the team as well, so a good night. And it as really positive for Tariq to get 45 minutes and we’ve gone through so we’ll take that."
Brighton’s outstanding start to the Premier League season meant they came into the tie on the back of a fourth win in five league games while the Welsh club are currently toiling towards the foot of the Championship.
It was Swansea, however, who made the more positive start and would have been ahead if they had demonstrated more composure in front of goal. Potter’s side, which included Lamptey for a first appearance in nine months, initially struggled to create clear openings going forward but once they applied meaningful pressure on the visitors, they quickly took control of the game with two goals in five first half minutes.
A series of strong runs from Taylor Richards began to cause problems to the left side of the Swansea defence. The breakthrough, though, came from the other flank after Alexis Mac Allister found Connolly, and the forward cut inside before firing a right-footed shot on goal that was deflected out of the reach of keeper Steven Benda.
After falling behind the last thing Swansea needed to do was to gift Brighton the opportunity to double their advantage. A misplaced pass near halfway allowed Albion to launch a counter-attack that again went through Mac Allister before reaching Connolly who this time beat Benda with a clean finish.
It was to Swansea’s credit that they started the second period in the same positive manner as they had the first. Frustratingly for Swansea manager Russell Martin, his side’s finishing also mirrored their earlier efforts with Liam Cullen directing a shot against the bar before Korey Smith failed to take advantage of a clear sight on goal and also sent a rising drive against the woodwork.
"I don’t know how we haven’t scored," said Martin. "That’s my frustration."
Brighton survived an uncomfortable 15 minutes and while they rarely looked like adding to their tally - Jakob Moder came closest with a well struck shot - they saw out the tie with relative ease.
Brighton & Hove Albion (3-4-3): Steele; Turns, Roberts, Burn; Lamptey (Gross h-t), Moder, Leonard, Alzate; Richards, Mac Allister (Sarmiento 69), Connolly (Locadia 76). Substitutes: Scherpen (g), Furlong, Offiah.
Swansea City (3-5-2): Benda; Cabango 6 (Manning h-t), Cooper, Williams; Latibeaudiere, Fulton, Smith (Dhanda 62), Walsh (Downes 62), Bidwell; Cullen, Whittaker. Substitutes: Webb (g), Piroe, Rushesha, Laird. Booked Williams, Cooper, Downes.
Referee: Michael Salisbury (Lancashire)