Tottenham's second game in the New York
Challenge at the Red Bull arena proved to be the trophy decider with
Sporting Lisbon having won their first game too. So, both sides
went into the game, perhaps more interested than they might have been.
With Sporting having a Europa League qualifier on Thursday, their
competitive first game is closer than Tottenham's, so for Spurs, it was
still a bit of a fitness exercise, but with the promise of silverware
should they overcome the Portuguese side.
Spurs started the game looking sharp
under the blazing New York sun. Kranjcar's third minute through
ball gave Alan Hutton a chance to get forward and he should have scored,
but failed to even hit the target when he shot from just inside the box
under pressure from a Sporting defender. A couple of minutes
later, Robbie Keane was played through the middle, but as he ran towards
goal, he hit a very weak shot from 25 yards out, straight at the keeper.
It was almost a costly mistake when
Corluka, who had been banging on about not messing up the Champions
League qualifier, gave the ball away trying to be too clever in his own
half and had the ball taken off him, leading to Cudicini saving a
one-on-one shot, then Kyle Naughton blocking the next shot, with
Cudicini then having to stop the next effort with the aid of a post and
when the ball came out again, the bar stopped a shot going in. It
was a let off with the Sporting forwards failing to take advantage of
their opportunity. Two minutes later, the Spurs keeper was called
upon to rush from his goal to clear from an on-running striker, who was
through past a static Spurs defence had it not been for the Italian.
Halfway through the half, Spurs suddenly
launched an attack when Kranjcar hit a crisp pass through the middle of
the Lisbon back line to an off-side looking Robbie Keane (and on
previous evidence it would not have been surprising if he had been
flagged), but he ran through and had time to get to 12 yards out before
the hooped shirts caught up with him. He hit a low shot across the
keeper and into the net to put Tottenham 1-0 up.
The lead only lasted just over a minute,
with the ball going forward and being played to the right, where Salamao
crossed with the outside of his left foot, straight onto the head of
Matias, who had moved into the area unmarked to plant the ball firmly
past Cudicini9 before he could move. It highlighted the lack of
communication in the defence, with Corluka not having the speed and
Walker not having the experience to link up together just yet.
Spurs almost his back straight away, with
Taarabt playing Keane through once more, but the Irishman was easily
held off by Torsignieri and then Kranjcar set Walker on a run down the
right to the touch-line and he pulled the ball across the six yard box,
but his cross was cut out by Patricio with Keane waiting just behind him
should he have missed it.
Sporting failed to live up to their name
when Liedson got a yellow card for a challenge saw his studs go across
Corluka's shin. Spurs had the last chance of the first half after
a period of scrappy play, when Keane was through once more, with a low
cross put in from the right that was just a yard too far ahead of Gareth
Bale coming through the middle.
The only substitution of the half time
period was David Button coming on to replace Cudicini, who had played
all of the games so far, but, unfortunately, his first task was to pick
the ball out of the net. The ball was played across the face of
the penalty area in the second minute of the half and Valdes went past
Hutton and then shot low from the left side across Button and his effort
went just inside the post to put the Portuguese 2-1 ahead.
However, Button made a low stop to a shot
from outside the area a couple of minutes after the goal and then
grabbed a rising effort at head level, showing good handling.
Spurs were also testing the Sporting goalie with Taarabt side-footing a
pull back from Bale, although he might have put his foot through the
ball to make it a tougher task for Patricio. Adel repaid the
compliment by putting Bale through and he looked like he was going to
score until tackled and pulled up by the linesman's flag in the 58th
That was Taarabt's last action, as
Jonathan Obika came on to replace him, as the youngster played up front
with Keane dropping in behind him, but it was at the back where
Tottenham had to be alert and Kyle Walker made a fine challenge on
Liedson as he went into the area and looked to get his shot away.
The changes start to come more regularly now and Danny Rose replaced
Naughton, who had done well, allowing Bale to move into midfield, while
the sub took over at left back again.
Spurs were making more chances now.
Hutton flicked the ball past one man on the right and as he got near the
edge of the box, played it into Kranjcar, whose first time volley went
just wide. Redknapp took Niko off after this and on came Andros
Townsend to use his pace against a Lisbon side tiring in the 100 plus
degree heat. Almost immediately, a pass across the pitch on
halfway was intercepted by Keane, who played a ball along the left hand
channel for Obika. The forward had to take the ball a little
further to his left, but as he got to the 18 yard line, he let go a low
left foot shot that Patricio got to, but could not keep out. While
it was a well hit shot, you felt the keeper could have done better, but
at 2-2, it was still Sporting who would lift the trophy as they had
scored more goals than Spurs.
A rash of substitutions for the
Portuguese club saw Pedro Mendes as one of four subs who came on just
after the goal ad it was Tottenham who were going for it at the end.
So much so, that Sporting picked up two more yellow cards as they tried
to win a dodgy penalty (although Rose might have made contact with the
player rather than the ball) and to stop Spurs attacks. When Spurs did
get through, Obika sharply turned and shot picking up a deflection that
took the ball wide. With a minute left, a through ball was aimed
towards Keane, but it was too heavy, meaning Patricio had to race out of
his area to kick clear. His clearance only went as far as Ton
Huddlestone, who was just inside the centre circle and his shot back
over the keeper missed by an agonisingly narrow margin.
With that chance gone, there was just
time for one more Sporting substitution and then it was all over.
Spurs had won one and tied one (as they say over here) and a similar
record but by the gap of a 2-0 rather than a 2-1 victory in their first
game, Sporting Lisbon took the silverware in what had been an
interesting and entertaining match.
It was clear that Spurs are getting
sharper and although it may be hot in August when they kick off the
Premier League season, it won't be this hot and they will have their
World Cup players back to make them a more formidable outfit, so this
was a useful exercise both on and off the pitch.