After battling back for a point on Friday, two sloppy bits of defending
left Spurs 0-2 losers to Glasgow Celtic in the final game of the
inaugural Wembley this afternoon. It wasn't all one way though,
with Tottenham creating enough chances to get back in the match, but
they could not stick the ball in the net.
With Tottenham having the majority of the
possession, it was the massed ranks of the green hooped shirts and the
poor finishing that ended Tottenham's impressive five-year run of
undefeated pre-season friendlies, but perhaps this will sharpen the
focus of the team and serve to remind them that there is a need to
battle, even when against the odds.
Owing to the defensive injuries, Pascal
Chimbonda started in the centre of the defence with Dorian Dervite.
Robbie Keane and Darren bent began the game up front with rumours
circulating that a £10 million deal with Portsmouth for Peter Crouch had
been agreed and this might have been on Bent's mind, as he had some
decent opportunities, but could not net them.
A number of times, Spurs moved the ball
well to get in and around the box, but too often an extra pass or touch
ended the move, with nobody willing to take a shot on goal. Lennon
skinned new Celtic signing Fox with a cheeky nutmeg, but the ball in
failed to be turned into a shot on goal. Then before you knew it
the Scots had scored in the ninth minute.
A seemingly innocuous move down the right
was ended in a cross from Caddis being headed in by Chris Killen
unimpeded, despite Dervite and Chimbonda both being close to the
striker, but not close enough. Killen has found it easy to find
the gap between the two central defenders, but from Tottenham's point of
view, it was a poor goal to concede.
It could have been 1-1 four minutes
later, as Tom Huddlestone was pressing on the edge of the Celtic box and
nicked the ball off Crosas and Keane prodded it through into Bent's
path, but one-on-one with the keeper, he put it low to Zaluska's right
and he got a leg in the away to keep the ball out.
Spurs needed to be alert, as the movement
by the Celtic players was good and there was a lack of covering back,
thus allowing the Buoys to move into the area and cause problems.
Mizuno had a low shot that Gomes saw go just wide, before Tottenham
created another opening for Bent in the 20th minute, but he failed to
get sufficient power behind a header on Palacios' cross. The
striker also missed with his next effort in the next minute, as he swung
a boot at BAE's left wing cross to send the ball soaring into the Spurs
fans behind the goal.
Spurs were being opened up and the ball
was moved out to the left flank, where Fox went forward and played in
Mizuno in the penalty area, but he took a touch too many and Chimbonda
got back to take the ball off his toe. Outside of him, Alan Hutton
was getting all sorts of stick from the Celtic fans and the Tottenham
fans were initially responsive, but as the game went on got quieter.
On the half hour, Assou-Ekotto played the
ball to Hud and while he was some 25 yards out, he struck a low shot
early, thus catching out Zaluska, who could only fumble his shot as he
dived and the luck was not on Tottenham's side, as the ball fell to a
green and white shirt and it was hacked clear. The keeper was also
hesitant in coming for a Huddlestone cross, which should have been a
routine take, but he let it bounce in front of him, with nobody else
around and grabbed it at the second attempt.
Not that it mattered, as five minutes
before the break, it was 2-0. Georgios Samaras picked up the ball
five yards inside his own half and Dervite missed a tackle on him on the
halfway line. That should not have mattered, but without
possessing the greatest pace, the Greek striker ran away from Dervite,
Huddlestone and Chimbonda to take the ball into the penalty area on the
right hand side and fire a fierce effort across Gomes to double the
lead. It was a very poor goal to give away and left a hill to
climb in this pre-season match.
Admittedly Celtic are ready for their
campaign to begin, with Dynamo Moscow waiting for them in the Champions
League next week, but Tottenham had looked comfortable for long periods
in the first three games of the build-up and against Barcelona came
strong at the end. When Samaras took on a few Spurs players and
then Killen picked up the ball as Alan Wiley waved play on, it was only
his poor finishing in shooting across the goal, that prevented it being
0-3 at the break.
There were wholesale changes in the Spurs
side at the break and Celtic made four substitutions, probably reaping
the benefits of their changes soon after the break, when McCourt was
released to run thirty five yards through the Tottenham midfield and
back line, before shooting wide of Cudcini's far post. If it had
gone in, it might have eclipsed Ricky Villa's effort, but that was not
in a pre-season tournament, but when playing for more serious
Spurs started to string their passes
together and threaten the Celtic goal. Jake Livermore tried to add
another goal to his Wembley collection, but his shot from 25 yards was
straight at the goalie, while a better chance was created by O'Hara's
left wing cross that the keeper beat Jermain Defoe to and when the loose
ball ran to Luka Modric, John O'Dea was on the line to block the effort
from going in and O'Hara followed into blaze the ball way over.
Defoe was then the provider in the 53rd minute, setting up Livermore to
shoot at Zaluska again.
A slack piece of lack of concentration
allowed Crosas to pick out McGinn's run and his drive from outside the
box dipped just over Carlo Cudicini's bar and then Conroy made a run on
the right wing and Spurs allowed him to cross for Killen to head at
goal, but he picked out Cudicini for a comfortable save.
John Bostock came on for Tom and he made
an immediate impact, although some of his passes carried a little too
much weight and caused his team-mates problems in trying to control
them. However, he did burst down the left into the corner of the
penalty area and pulled a very good ball back across the six yard box,
only for Defoe to be slightly behind the ball and then a chance arose a
couple of minutes later, when Chimbonda headed a corner into the
goal-mouth, but Defoe was once more unable to make contact.
Pavyluchenko almost put Defoe through, but the keeper got there first
and then Bostock played a give and go with Livermore, but could not
control his shot enough to get it on target and it was still rising as
it went over the crossbar.
And that was that. A new
competition finished and with Barcelona beating Al Ahly 4-1, Celtic took
the trophy with four points, Barca had three, Tottenham one and Al Ahly
It was a disappointing performance and
one in which a number of players probably proved to Redknapp that they
will not be ready to play in the side for the first game of the season,
but there is still time to get them ready, with four more games left
against West Ham United, Hull City or a Chinese side, then South China
and finally Olympiakos. Not a lot of playing time or against the
best of opposition, but the travelling will also take its toll, so the
need to sharpen up for the opener is primary in Harry's mind, I am sure.
After all we don't want to have only two points after eight games again,
do we ?
THE FUNKY PHANTOM