Tottenham Hotspur   2    Torino   0      (Half-time score : 1-0)

Venue : White Hart Lane  
Saturday 4th August 2007
Kick Off :  2.15 p.m.  (original k.o. 2.00 p.m.)
Crowd :   ,
Referee :  Lee Probert (-)
Weather :  -  Hot, sunny
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

Paul Robinson

Pascal Chimbonda
Michael Dawson
Younes Kaboul
Ricardo Rocha (Paul Stalteri 73)

Teemu Tainio (Tom Huddlestone 73)
Jermaine Jenas
Didier Zokora (Darren Bent 65)
Steed Malbranque (Wayne Routledge 75)

Dimitar Berbatov (Jermain Defoe 73)
Robbie Keane (c) (Adel Taarabt 85)

Unused subs
Radek Cerny
Phil Ifil

Torino :


(Franceschini 69)
(Bottone 72)
Lanna (
Rubin 61)

Corini (Vailatti 57)
Grella (
Lazetic 35)
Di Loreto

Di Michele (Bjelanovic 46)
Ventola (
Stellone 46 [Oguro 88])

Unused subs

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Keane 16
Berbatov 65



Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  






Match Report : -  
For Tottenham to take no such cynical and lacklustre opponents one week before the season's start was a brave and a baffling decision.  Having avoided relegation from Serie A by a single point last season and set to be put into the shade by their returning neighbours Juventus, Torino lack punch up front, but not in any other aspect of their play as they slipped to a 0-2 defeat at the Lane.

With Spurs risking injury from the heavy and illegal tackling of the visitors, there was the risk that they would lost players for next Saturday's opener against Sunderland.  There were plenty of incidents when the referee could have showed strength to keep the dangerous tackles under control, but his lack of decisive action allowed the Italian side's players to go through their repertoire of shirt-pulling, ankle-taps and off the ball confrontation.  This correspondent for one hopes we don't see too much of Mr. Probert at WHL.

That aside, it followed on from Wednesday night's win over Leyton Orient and the team kept possession and kept Torino penned in their own half for long periods of the game.  So much so that the Granata had to wait until the 78th minute until they had their first shot on target.

Much of this was due to the hard-working Spurs midfield, who managed to run the Italian side to ground, with constant harrying and movement that caused problems for the whole of the 90 minutes.

Particularly impressive in this respect were Didier Zakora and Jermain Jenas, ably assisted by Steed Malbranque on the left wing, who tormented the Torino right back and Teemu Tainio on the right.  Malbranque has been a bit of a revelation in pre-season, showing great determination and pace, along with the ability to set up goals for the front men.  His versatility might yet find him a starting place in the side.

With a fifteen minute delay now becoming the norm for our pre-season games, Spurs started well with some fearless tackles, which were responded to with cynical late challenges or trips.  Both Natali and Zanetti were guilty of three bad fouls each in the opening half hour, with the referee failing to impose any sanction on them other than a finger wagging.

Di Loreti almost put a header back to Sereni past him, with the goalkeeper called into action again when Chimbonda's far post header to Zokora's free-kick saw Sereni get a hand to knock the ball away from Berbatov's head.  The Tottenham keeper, Paul Robinson was required to grab a through ball before Nicola Ventola got there and then he slid in to kick clear after Kaboul's clearance was blocked.

When Malbranque became another victim of Natali's rough treatment, the free kick was lined up by Berbatov.  With Kaboul alongside him, the Bulgarian striker touched it aside for our new centre-half to shoot.  However, the Torino wall had broken early and a defender was less than 10 yards away when Kaboul tried to chip it forward and the ball ballooned up into the air, leaving him to win the header and as the ball dropped, Robbie Keane took the ball on the volley to crash his shot against the angle of crossbar and post, with the ball going in off the opposite post for a fine opening goal after 16 minutes.  It was a poorly executed free-kick, much thanks to the ref for allowing the encroachment, but the finish was exquisite.

The Tottenham defenders obviously fancied it today, with the unusual sight of Ricardo Rocha forcing his way forward to curl an effort over the top from 25 yards out when it opened up in front of him.  On 25 minutes, Keane lifted the ball into the air for Dimitar to strike a full-bloodied volley that Sereni pushed away and then Jenas struck a low shot that fizzed not too far away from the goal.  As the ball was almost exclusively heading for the Torino goal, Paul Robinson launched a pass two thirds of the length of the pitch to Keane's feet and he laid it wide for Tainio to play a low near post cross into the area.  Steed did well to get there first, but could not get enough weight on his shot as it ran across him to greatly trouble Sereni.  The Italian goalie was scurrying across his goal just after the half hour, when Chimbonda's far post header at a free kick drifted over Keane, but went close enough to the goal to need a last minute dive to make sure it was going wide.

Spurs supremacy almost bore a second goal just two minutes before the break, as an innovative scoop up over the defence by Teemu Tainio set up Malbranque for a shot that Lanna had to dive in to block, as it was heading in.  There was one further opportunity just before the added period of time, when a foul on Keane saw a free-kick awarded centrally for Berbatov to dip one over the wall and force Sereni to a full length dive to push the ball away.

The second half saw a couple of changes for Torino, but the Spurs line-up stayed the same.  The new legs threatened to spark the visitors into a bit of action, with Barone's low cross being stopped by Dawson, who was up quickly to block Stellone's follow-up shot.  Robbo had a nervy moment, when he back-peddled to the far post to deal with a cross, but missed his punch and luckily, Bjelnovic was off balance enough not to be able to capitalise.

Meanwhile, Berbatov was waiting his moment at the other end.  With a long ball deceiving Di Loreti, Berba turned and ran at goal down the right hand side of the penalty area, to smash a shot over the bar.  It was a lot closer than Jenas came, when he hit a shot miles wide after the opening was created by Steed and Robbie. 

Something that has not been done before almost happened, when Zokora strode forward and fired in a 25 yard effort that ended up being too straight.  It was the prelude to the second Spurs goal, which was a well worked one.

In the 65th minute, Chimbonda's first cross from the right was blocked, but the ball came back to him to knock a chip to the far post.  Steed Malbranque was on the end of it and taking it down, he could have shot home first time, but went left, outside and round Sereni to the dead ball line.  The Frenchman looked up to see Berbatov centrally placed in the six yard box and his low ball left Dimitar the simple task of knocking it over the line for 2-0.  Malbranque's unselfishness created the goal, but it was a good bit of thinking from Chimbonda to pick him out.

The goal saw Darren Bent replace Berbatov and he nearly scored immediately, after latching onto Jenas' return pass, his shot was beaten out and then held by Sereni in the 70th minute.  Robbo, meanwhile, had to do something in anger for the first time, as Stellone darted in and the man between the sticks had to dash out to be there first with just 12 minutes left.  He had to field his first direct shot on goal, which came from substitute Stellone's replacement Oguro, with 88 minutes on the clock, but it was a tame effort from 25 yards out.

In between, Keane hit a rasping 84th minute volley from the edge of the Torino area, which Sereni did well to keep out, but could only knock out to Chimbonda.  He denied the Spurs defender, before getting another bite of the cherry and lifting a far post cross for Darren Bent to head at goal, only to be denied when Franchescini blocked it away for a corner right on the goalpost.

Another late substitute, Adel Taarabt cut down on the step-overs, but beat Lazetic on the left of the box and hit a powerful low drive that Sereni did well to save at his near post and concede a corner.

it was the last meaningful action, as the whistle blew on another useful preparation game, with another win and a 100% pre-season record.  While tougher challenges than this will lay ahead in the coming months, it is a game which Tottenham might look back on as one in which they showed patience and a good attitude in.  Lots of hard work, taking the knocks and waiting the chance to hit the opposition where it hurts ... in the back of their net.  Nobody would claim that Torino are world beaters and indeed they may struggle again in their domestic competition, but for Spurs, it was another step along the path of learning towards success.



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