Jose Mourinho was again critical of Dele Alli and confirmed Gareth Bale suffered another injury setback in Tottenham's 3-1 EFL Cup quarter-final win at Stoke City.
Bale cleverly headed home a third goal of his second spell with Spurs to put them in front in a one-sided first half at the bet365 Stadium on Wednesday.
The Wales captain was then replaced by Son Heung-min at half-time, with Mourinho revealing he had asked to be withdrawn due to a calf problem.
Jordan Thompson equalised with the Championship side's first shot eight minutes into the second half, but a rasping long-range drive from Ben Davies and Harry Kane's 16th goal of the season put Spurs into the last four.
Alli, who has fallen out of favour under Mourinho, twice went close to scoring in the first half and was not impressed when Mourinho took him off after 66 minutes.
Two of Alli's three shots were well saved by a busy Andy Lonergan and he also contested a game-high 19 duels, as well as drawing more fouls (five) than any other player.
Yet Mourinho made it clear he was not happy with a flick from the attacking midfielder that did not come off before Thompson levelled from out of the blue.
"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 of Alli, who started in an advanced role behind Kane.
"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."
Eyebrows were raised when Bale did not return for the second half, but Mourinho said he made the change at the request of the on-loan forward.
"Yeah, it was his decision," said the Tottenham boss. "Something he felt in the last part of the first half and he didn't want to come out for the second half.
"While he was walking to the dressing room he told me immediately that he couldn't come out for the second half.
"Something I think with his calf. I'm not sure as at that time I just want to reorganise the team and make the change."