Match ends, Tottenham Hotspur 1, Sheffield United 0.
- Game was delayed by 15 minutes as visitors stuck in traffic
- Townsend scored a penalty after McEveley's handball
- Second leg at Bramall Lane on Wednesday, 28 January
- Winners face Liverpool or Chelsea at Wembley on 1 March
Andros Townsend's penalty ensured Tottenham will go into the second leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final with an advantage over Sheffield United.
Spurs had been frustrated by the League One side before Jay McEveley's needless handball in the 74th minute gave them a spot-kick, which Townsend converted.
Emmanuel Adebayor shot over, Townsend fired wide and Eric Dier also had a header saved for Premier League Spurs.
United created little and must win the second leg at Bramall Lane to advance.
Nigel Clough's side - seventh in the third tier of English football - had defeated West Ham and Southampton in earlier rounds of this season's competition but they never looked like beating Spurs.
However, the Blades had produced a resolute performance to restrict the hosts' opportunities and looked on course to head to the second leg at Bramall Lane on 28 January with a hard-earned goalless draw.
But their hopes were wrecked when defender McEveley, under pressure from substitute Roberto Soldado, raised his arms and handled in the area for a clear-cut penalty.
Tottenham have not won a trophy in the last six seasons and manager Mauricio Pochettino will be relieved with the victory, but annoyed by his side's lack of creativity.
|The run continues|
|Tottenham have scored in each of their last 27 home games in the League Cup. The last time they failed to do so was in a goalless draw against Wimbledon in a semi-final first leg in January 1999.|
Harry Kane, with 18 goals this season, failed to make an impact in front of watching England boss Roy Hodgson, although Kane was not the only Spurs player to be frustrated by a well-organised away defence.
Kane's strike partner Adebayor, captaining the side on his first start since 2 November, was also ineffective and wasted his only chance when he shot over the crossbar after he collected Christian Eriksen's ball over the defence.
Adebayor's replacement Soldado also did not test goalkeeper Mark Howard, but helped force McEveley into the crucial error.
For the Blades, whose coach was stuck in London traffic causing a 15-minute delay to the match, they will be pleased to still be in the tie.
They only had 35% possession but did manage to create two notable chances.
Jamal Campbell-Ryce, who scored twice in the Blades' 3-0 win against Premier League QPR in the FA Cup earlier this month, dragged his shot wide before Stefan Scougall also narrowly shot off target.
But McEveley's mistake and Townsend's calm finish from the spot mean a draw at Bramall Lane will be enough for Tottenham to face either Liverpool or Chelsea, who drew 1-1 in their first leg, in the Wembley final on 1 March.
- 25StambouliSubstituted forPaulinhoat 75'minutes
- 38MasonSubstituted forDembéléat 65'minutes
- 10AdebayorBooked at 17minsSubstituted forSoldadoat 65'minutes
- 19McEveleyBooked at 55mins
- 10ScougallSubstituted forWallaceat 87'minutes
- 12McNultySubstituted forBaxterat 83'minutes
- Neil Swarbrick
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Tottenham Hotspur 1, Sheffield United 0.
Attempt missed. Jamie Murphy (Sheffield United) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Jose Baxter.
Corner, Sheffield United. Conceded by Kyle Walker.
Substitution, Sheffield United. Kieran Wallace replaces Stefan Scougall.
Attempt missed. Jose Baxter (Sheffield United) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left misses to the left. Assisted by Jamal Campbell-Ryce.
Corner, Sheffield United. Conceded by Jan Vertonghen.
Attempt missed. Stefan Scougall (Sheffield United) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Jose Baxter following a set piece situation.
Foul by Ben Davies (Tottenham Hotspur).
Jamal Campbell-Ryce (Sheffield United) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Substitution, Sheffield United. Jose Baxter replaces Marc McNulty.
Offside, Tottenham Hotspur. Christian Eriksen tries a through ball, but Harry Kane is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Jay McEveley (Sheffield United) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Robert Harris with a cross following a set piece situation.
Foul by Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur).
Marc McNulty (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jamie Murphy (Sheffield United).
Attempt missed. Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Harry Kane.
Substitution, Tottenham Hotspur. Paulinho replaces Benjamin Stambouli.
Goal! Tottenham Hotspur 1, Sheffield United 0. Andros Townsend (Tottenham Hotspur) converts the penalty with a left footed shot to the bottom right corner.