Despite the hectic pre-season schedule
that Harry Redknapp has blasted, Spurs went into the Eagle's eerie and
brought home the Eusebio Cup with a 1-0 win with a nearly first choice
There were some absences ... Hutton,
Keane, Pavyluchenko, King, Kaboul ... but the team showed a solidity and
determination to come away with a result. From the off, Crouch
took a buffeting from Luiz and stood up to the physical side, as did a
number of Spurs players, mainly Giovani and Lennon, who took a head-butt
in avoiding a studs up challenge from Ruben Amorim as the home players
may have been out in search of a blood feed following on from the eagle
circulating the stadium before kick off. The great Eusebio
reminded us that we were there to see the football.
Spurs started quick and smartly moved the
ball down the left, with Bale freeing Giovani, but when he beat his man,
he failed to pick out Crouch in the middle or Lennon at the far post,
dropping the ball into the keeper's hands. But then Benfica struck
at the other end, when Jara played a slide rule pass through the defence
to give Cardozo a shooting opportunity from the left, which Gomes had to
get his hands to to keep out in the fourth minute.
Spurs had the ball in the net in the 11th
minute, with Modric and Bale linking on the left wing to allow the
Welshman to cross, but when Crouch neatly turned the ball in at the near
post, the linesman had his flag up to indicate that the England forward
had strayed offside. Jara once more produced a telling pass, as he
spotted Saviola, but the Argentine could not keep his shot down and it
did not trouble Gomes in the Tottenham goal. When Modric played
Bale away on the left wing again, he did get another cross in, but
played it into the area ahead of Crouch rather than waiting to pick out
his run and the chance was lost with Lennon not being advanced enough to
get the ball at the far post.
As the game entered the second half of
the first period, Benfica started to get into the game more and pressed
onto the Spurs goal. Jara was once more the provider, when Martins
hit a shot across the goal and wide, then when Martins did get one on
target, Gomes beat the ball out and Saviola hit the rebound off target.
The striker also missed another chance just after the half hour, when he
failed to stay on his feet as Chelsea transfer target David Luiz played
a pass into him.
With the half coming towards an end, Spurs started to
play their way back into the match and Peter Crouch got his head to
Bale's corner and directed it across the goalmouth and it was just out
of reach of the navy shirted players around the front of the goal.
However, the home team finished the half on the attack, with Coentrao
hitting a blocked shot back at goal, but it missed by a yard.
Half time substitutions were made as they always are
in friendlies, but while Tottenham made four, Benfica settled for three
... for the time being. One of the Spurs subs was busy from the
start of the half when Benfica picked up from where they left off.
Carlo Cudicini twice stopped efforts within the first five minutes of
the half, firstly from a Cardozo header after Peixoto's cross and then
he had to push out the long range shot from Javi Garcia, with the
Jubilani ball showing more of it's South African style by moving in the
air as it came towards the Tottenham goalie.
Then a good move saw Tottenham take the lead.
Corluka sent a long ball up to Jermain Defoe, but it pushed him wide on
the left down by the corner flag. He played the ball back to
Kranjcar, who couldn't control it and fortunately, it ran on to Giovani.
The Mexican showed quick thinking with a cheeky back heel that put
Gareth Bale through into the box and he just got a left foot to it
before the keeper and nudged the ball into the net to give Tottenham the
lead in the 55th minute. It was a well worked goal and one we will
need the like of if we are to prosper in Europe.
The rest of the game saw Benfica have the better of
the chances, with Peixoto narrowly miss with a free-kick and then
provide a headed chance for Weldon in the 76th minute from another dead
ball. The best chance of the game for the Eaglkes came with five
minutes left, as substitute Kardec was given space to have a free
header, but he headed Menezes' corner wide from inside five yards to
leave the red shirted players putting their heads in their hands.
The last word went to Spurs, with Benfica's third goalkeeper of the
night - Julio Cesar - having to dive to his left to keep out Kranjcar's
late effort, but the four minutes of added time was seen out comfortably
and it was left to Michael Dawson to lift what is hopefully just the
first piece of silverware of the season.
A useful run out against a side who have a good
European record, so with one game left before the season begins, Spurs
will be looking to sign off their pre-season programme with a win
against Fiorentina on Saturday.
sid e netting