Hakim Ziyech acknowledged the Blues could have won the first leg of our Carabao Cup semi-final against Tottenham by more than two goals, but the Moroccan, who was outstanding, still left the Bridge content with our evening’s work.
Deployed on the right side of midfield in the first half and then slightly further upfield in a front three after the break, Ziyech pulled the strings. It was his free-kick that created panic in the Tottenham backline and eventually ended up in the net to put us 2-0 up, and later an exquisite volleyed pass of his released Timo Werner, who was thwarted by Hugo Lloris.
At the halfway point of the tie, the winger gave his verdict.
‘It was a good performance from the team and a good way to start these two games,’ Ziyech said.
‘We put pressure on them and didn’t give them time. We did good in the first half especially. We got a quick 1-0 and that's what we wanted, because we knew they would have to come out and make some more mistakes, and in the end they did.
’10 minutes before half-time we got the second one and had a good feeling in the dressing room. We could have killed the game in the second half. We had bigger chances than they had, but 2-0, we can be happy with that.
‘It was a derby, a semi-final, so we had to be sharp and focused, and we were. We got the job done but there is still a game next week so hopefully we finish it there.’
Ziyech explained how our shape benefitted us against Antonio Conte’s side.
‘It was a bit different than usual. We had four at the back, normally we have five, so that gave us more opportunities up front.
‘They didn’t know whether to follow the midfielders or step out. That was the biggest win for us.
‘We had some difficult games, some injuries, Covid, but how we have dealt with it as a team is pretty good,’ added the 28-year-old.
‘We have got on the right track, and now let’s keep focused.’