LONDON // Tottenham maintained their League Cup defence last night by rallying to beat Watford 2-1, while Carlos Tevez scored four times to put Manchester United into the semifinals with a 5-3 victory over Blackburn. Harry Redknapp, who won the FA Cup for Portsmouth in May, is just two matches from a Wembley final with Spurs after Darren Bent's 76th-minute winner. "It was more about not staying out for another half an hour in the freezing cold," said Bent, pleased to avoid extra time.
"The team played well, we created chances and got the result. It is massive, the Carling Cup is another bit of silverware for us." Man United and Spurs will join League Championship sides Burnley and Derby in Saturday's draw for the two-legged semifinals. "I was looking forward to this game and since I have not been playing often and it was a good night and I'm happy with my performance," Tevez said through the Brazil midfielder Rodrigo Possebon, who was translating.
"I'm very proud to score four goals for the first time in my career and to do it in a United shirt." Spurs fell behind in the 13th minute when the Watford striker Tamas Priskin, with his back to goal, picked up Tommy Smith's pass, turned Jermaine Jenas and evaded Jonathan Woodgate before striking low into the bottom of the net. "They caused us problems, the pitch was hard to play on, they were in our faces, but credit to the lads for coming back from a goal down to win," Woodgate said. "Everyone was disappointed with the goal, especially myself, but you learn from it and keep improving."
A stroke of luck came before half time with Jenas winning a penalty when tripped by Ross Jenkins, and Roman Pavlyuchenko equalised from the penalty spot. Michael Dawson was denied a penalty in the second half before Bent, who replaced Pavlyuchenko at the break, shot under the Watford goalkeeper Scott Loach at the near post. Manchester United made 10 changes from the side that beat Man. City at the weekend, but were not troubled by Blackburn until the closing stages.
Tevez, helped by marker Aaron Mokoena, bundled home a free kick from Ryan Giggs at the far post to put United ahead in the 36th minute. Four minutes later, Nani played a one-two with Tevez before slotting under goalkeeper Paul Robinson. But the Blackburn striker Benni McCarthy took just three minutes to make an impact after coming off the bench at half time. Roque Santa Cruz flicked on Robinson's deep goal kick, and after outmanoeuvring makeshift centre-back Gary Neville, McCarthy fired past Ben Foster.
Tevez quickly restored United's two-goal lead in the 51st and made it 4-1 three minutes later. Blackburn threatened a late comeback when Matt Derbyshire slotted under Foster in the 84th and McCarthy scored a second in the second minute of injury time. Tevez further pushed his claims to a regular first-team place by finishing off Rovers before the final whistle when latching onto Anderson's lofted ball forward. Another major boost for United was the return of midfielder Paul Scholes in the 66th for the first time since damaging knee ligaments in September.