Tottenham have become the first top-six club to be dumped out of the Carabao Cup, with Ange Postecoglou handed his first defeat as Marco Silva’s hosts won on penalties.
Postecoglou started his campaign as Spurs boss with two wins and one draw, including back-to-back wins over Manchester United and Bournemouth without conceding a goal.
But the Australian’s bright new dawn vanished as Tottenham disappeared from another competition.
The Tottenham coach took a gamble on wholesale changes in his first Carabao Cup tie with captain Heung-min Son, summer signing James Maddison and other big hitters on the bench.
The gamble did not go as planned as Spurs were outplayed, and only Fulham’s profligacy in front of goal took the contest into a penalty shootout.
An own goal by summer signing Micky van de Ven had given the Cottagers the lead when they were well on top in the first half before Richarlison levelled from his first goal of the season.
But after normal time, the game was decided through penalties, with Kenny Tete settling it with the fifth spot kick after Marek Rodak made a save from Davinson Sanchez to send Marco Silva’s team into the third round.
“We put out a line-up we hoped would give us energy,” said Postecoglou after the games.
“That doesn’t mean the cup isn’t a priority. We’re very much at the discovery stage here; we needed to give players the opportunity to contribute. That’s why they’re here.
“I’m disappointed with the outcome, getting knocked out of the cup. We weren’t at our fluent best early on. We lacked a little bit of cohesion and fluency, but I liked the way we hung in there, showed character, and had our moments but were not able to get over the line. We’ve come away to a Premier League side, and if we’d lost 4-0, maybe it would be a different discussion.”
Tottenham’s exit from this competition extends their search for the first trophy since 2008. The North London side are not in Europe this season and unlikely to win the Premier League title.