Jose Mourinho accused Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli of creating "problems" for his own team during their 3-1 League Cup quarter-final win against Stoke on Wednesday.
Wales forward Gareth Bale made the most of a rare start to put Mourinho's team ahead at the Bet365 Stadium.
But Alli was at fault when his flamboyant flick was intercepted in the build-up to Jordan Thompson's equaliser for Stoke.
Alli's latest mistake drew an angry response on the touchline from Mourinho, who rebuked the star before substituting him minutes later.
Ben Davies put Tottenham back in front with his first goal since 2017 before England captain Harry Kane sealed their place in the semi-finals.
It was Alli's public dressing-down that took the spotlight, with the England international's wretched season hitting a new low in his first start since November 26.
Already exiled for long periods this term by Mourinho and linked with a January move to Paris Saint-Germain, Alli is a shadow of the player who shone during England's run to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals.
Mourinho made it clear the 24-year-old had to take the blame for his latest blunder.
"Yes, for me a player that plays in that position is a player that has to link and create and not to create problems for his own team," Mourinho said.
"In that situation, an objective counter-attack would probably end with a goal, and it ended with a counter-attack behind our defenders.
"We were unbalanced because when you are in possession you have full-backs out wide and another midfielder in a different line and they caught us in a counter-attack and they transformed the result of the game that was totally in our hands, so yes I am upset."
Tottenham are without a win in their last three Premier League games, including successive defeats against Liverpool and Leicester which dented their title challenge.
But Mourinho, a four-time League Cup winner with Chelsea and Manchester United, galvanised his players to avoid an upset in the Potteries.
Tottenham's most recent silverware came in the League Cup in 2008 and they remain in the hunt to end that drought after joining Manchester City and Brentford in the last four.
"To win this trophy we need to win two matches. But they are two very difficult matches," Mourinho said.
"The teams that are going to be there are very difficult teams. Man City are very difficult. Brentford, for me, the way they play they are not Championship, they are Premier League.
"But we are in the semi-finals and we will be there to fight."
In the 22nd minute, Harry Winks' inswinging cross reached Bale in the Stoke area and he guided a precise header past Andy Lonergan into the far corner.
It was Bale's third goal since returning to his former club on loan from Real Madrid in September.
Stoke equalised with their first shot on target in the 53rd minute as Jacob Brown's low cross found Thompson and he slotted past Hugo Lloris.
Davies put Tottenham back in front in the 71st minute when the left-back's 25-yard drive beat Lonergan and went in off the post.
Kane put the result beyond doubt in the 81st minute when he ran onto Moussa Sissoko's pass and blasted a typically predatory finish into the roof of the net for his 16th goal of the season.
In Wednesday's other quarter-final, Everton host Manchester United.
United are hoping to move a step closer to the first silverware of boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's reign.
Everton haven't won a major trophy since the 1995 FA Cup, but are flying high in fourth place in the Premier League.
Manchester City, who have won the League Cup for the last three seasons, thrashed Arsenal 4-1 on Tuesday, while second-tier Brentford reached their first major cup semi-final with a shock 1-0 win against Newcastle.