Dele Alli scores winning penalty as Tottenham beat Watford
Tottenham star Dele Alli.
Etienne Capoue went from hero to zero as Tottenham had to rely on a shoot-out victory after a thrilling EFL Cup tie against 10-man Watford finished 2-2 amid dramatic late scenes, with Dele Alli scoring the winning spot-kick.
Former Tottenham midfielder Capoue scored with a last-gasp effort after late goals from Alli and Erik Lamela had seemingly put Tottenham through in normal time.
But the midfielder could not find the target from the spot, sending a tame effort straight at Paulo Gazzaniga, who then saved from Domingos Quina.
And Alli - captaining Tottenham on his return to Stadium MK - made sure to make his goalkeeper's good work pay dividends with a powerful low finish to send Spurs into round four with a 4-2 shoot-out win.
Mauricio Pochettino decided to rest Harry Kane for Wednesday's encounter, and Tottenham looked toothless for much of the first-half in the absence of the England striker, although Alli was close to prodding home from Lucas Moura's effort.
Tottenham's profligacy nearly proved costly on the half hour when Ken Sema bundled through, only for Serge Aurier to make a superb last-ditch tackle.
Aurier could not repeat his heroics a minute after the restart though - Isaac Success shrugging off the former Paris Saint-Germain defender before hammering in from close range.
Tottenham rallied however, and it was Alli who led the way when, after drawing a clumsy foul in the box from substitute Christian Kabasele, who duly received his marching orders, the former MK Dons prodigy slotted in from the resulting spot-kick.
Lamela's delicate finish completed the turnaround four minutes from time, but there would be another twist as Capoue's strike deflected in to send the game to penalties.
However, Capoue became the villain when he struck straight at Gazzaniga in the shoot-out, with Quina's miss enabling Alli to secure progression.
What does it mean: Kane absence leaves Tottenham blunt up top
Kane's rest was much needed - and well timed - but Tottenham's reliance on their talisman was well and truly demonstrated on Wednesday, and despite a fine display from Alli, Pochettino's reluctance to give the England captain a break is entirely understandable.
Alli marks his homecoming in style
Alli, like Kane, has looked leggy and fatigued at times this campaign, but after missing out on a start against Brighton, the England international returned to his former stomping ground in emphatic fashion, and his two penalties capped off a fantastic all-round display.
Clumsy Kabasele costs Watford
Kabasele was on the pitch a mere four minutes before he lunged in on Alli, and although a red card was perhaps harsh, the defender's recklessness ultimately turned the game.
Tottenham travel to Huddersfield Town in the Premier League, although their thoughts may well be on the Champions League clash with Barcelona four days later. Watford, meanwhile, face Arsenal.