|Legends Friendly||Kick off 17:30|
|Spurs Legends 4 (3)||
Inter Forever 5 (3)
Tainio 06m 04s
Suazo 11m 01s
|Crowd : 41,244||Weather : Mild, dry|
|Referee : Peter Bankes||Assistant Referees : Mr. Paul Hodskinson; Mr. Tim Wood|
|Fourth Official : Craig Hicks|
|Spurs kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.|
|Game time : - 90 + 3 minutes.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Inter Forever :||kit|
Jurgen KLINSMANN (50
NAYIM 46 [19
Mark FALCO 74])
Julio CESAR (
Javier ZANETTI (c)
|Manager : Gary Mabbutt/Clive Allen||Manager : Francesco Toldo/Jose Mourinho|
|Sponsor : AIA||Shirt sponsor : Pirelli|
|Kit Supplier : Nike||Kit Supplier : Nike|
While the staging of this game was set up to provide an entertaining game, the more important issue behind it was the fact that it was a test event - the second and one which needed over 40,000 to be there to see how the stadium worked. Having been given the chance of getting out onto the White Hart Lane turf again, the stars of the days long (for some of them) gone, it was an easy paced by technically excellent display that the visiting Inter team won out 5-4 in the final few minutes.
The famous names on both sides were a list of great European players of the last thirty years. Gascoigne, Klinsmann, Blanc, Zanetti, Ginola, Berbatov, Veron and Cesar. Admittedly some of the names were a little less than legendary, but the opportunity to play again was too strong to resist for many despite the lack of fitness or the possession of a physique to carry it off. In games such as this, where legs are not up to making the runs that they previously would have done, accurate passing was a necessity, but unfortunately, Spurs mis-placed too many balls and that allowed Inter to spring attacks from breakdown in play.
But it was Tottenham who struck first. Darren Anderton rolled back the years to swing in a cross from ten yards outside the right hand corner of the penalty area. Robbie Keane flung himself at it, with a marker going with him, but it left Teemu Tainio unmarked in the middle of the goal to slide to meet it on the volley and knock it past Cesar from a just outside the six yard box to make it 1-0 with 5 minutes gone. The Finn had popped up in the box from left back and will no doubt be telling his son, who is in the Spurs Academy, all about it for years to come !!
The lead only lasted for five minutes though. Breaking from halfway, Javier Zanetti, he played the ball inside to Juan Sebastian Veron, got it back and retuned it to the Argentine midfielder. A cheeky back-heel back into the area in front of goal laid on an easy tap in for David Suazo, although Erik Thorstvedt did get a foot to the shot from three yards out. Unfortunately, Nicola Berti had to leave the field before the goal with an injury, without a chance for the Spurs fans had the opportunity to sing the "Nicola Berti" song. Erik The Viking had made a coupe of decent interventions, including a low dive to his right to grab a low shot at the second attempt.
Inter's Karagounis was keen to try his hand whenever he got close enough to goal, which mostly, his shots didn't. Bassong made a good block before a fantastic straight ball from right on the halfway line by Rafael van der Vaart picked out Robbie Keane, who looked suspiciously offside, but was allowed to continue, taking a quick look to see where the keeper was before swivelling to flick the ball high over Cesar from 15 yards out. The keeper was stranded as the ball landed in the back of the net. It was the perfect example of Keane's finishing art and although he is one of the players who hadn't retired too long ago, his mind was sharp enough to know where the goal was and the old desire to score goals still there to put Tottenham back into the lead.
Twenty minutes in, David Howells went into a challenge with Karagounis, leaving him with a cut head and a free-kick given to Inter. The Greek was complaining and wanted Howells dismissed, but whatever happened looked accidental, despite the former Fulham midfielder needing to be substituted with blood running down his face. Ten minutes after, the scores were level once more. It was almost a replay of the first, as Carbone was released down their right wing and his cross from wide found Suazo unmarked in the middle and he headed won powerfully past Thorstvedt for 2-2.
The game was swinging from end to end and two minutes later, there was another goal. Klinsmann and Keane linked passes allowing Rafa van der Vaart to scoop the ball over the Inter defence from the 18 yard line and Robbie Keane touched it past Blanc and into the middle of the goal. Galante headed it wide, but straight to Keano, who scissor-kicked it back into the middle and Allan Nielsen was there to hit a volley while falling to put it into an unguarded net to regain the lead for Spurs. But Suazo's tussle with Bassong, 25 yards out on the right of the box, but 25 yards out handed Inter the chance to test the Tottenham defence. It was swung in by Benito Carbone and looked an easy take for Erik, but he had to stretch a little too further than his body would let him and he could only drop the ball right in front of goal, with Veron lurking to nudge the ball over the line. With 37 minutes on the clock, at 3-3 it looked as though it might be a cricket score !
Tottenham finished the half quite strongly with a coupe of forward moves, but the closest they came to scoring again was Stephen Carr's right wing run the ended with him shooting a long long way up into the North Stand. It had been great to see so many ex-Spurs players, but how many would come out for the second half ?
It started with Neil Sullivan, Nayim, Paul Stalteri and Chris Perry. A re-arranged defence and a stocky midfielder made the second half quite a different story. Perry and Stalteri were still fit enough to run around, while Sullivan did well, looking no far off his playing weight, although Nayim was limited in his mobility (not that he was alone in that), but his ability still shone through. The pace of the game generally dropped and when Berba received the ball five yards inside his own half and strolled forward with the ball, no Spurs player got up to support him until Stalteri over-lapped on the outside.
On the hour, Carbone crossed to Karagounis, free on the right and the Greek midfielder pulled a low ball back towards the penalty spot for Nicola Ventola to sweep the ball first time inside Neil Sullivan's left hand post. It was a well taken shot that didn't give Sullivan time to react and gave Inter a 4-3 lead that only lasted for six minutes. Spurs suddenly sprang to life and Stephen Carr was sprung away down the right wing, from where he slung in a cross to the far post. It was pinpoint accurate for Dimitar Berbatov to rise at the far post to head the ball back across Castellazzi and into the far corner for the equaliser.
Paul Gascoigne, who had come on for van der Vaart had looked to show a few tricks, but unfortunately, it was evident from the start that he was hampered and limping, with an Achilles problem later explaining his limited involvement, being replace in the 70th minute. It was a shame to see him so thin and frail, when you remember the barrel-chested youngster of the days after we signed him.
Sullivan was called on to beat out a shot from inside the box by Carbone and then Bassong made a superb recovery tackle after he caught up with Suazo after he broke through on goal. A move involving a few players ended with Tainio putting a cross onto substitute David Ginola's chest, just inside the area, but the ball dropped and he had to stretch for it and could only drag a weak effort wide before being replaced by Robbie Keane, re-appearing to revive his partnership with Berba.
Tottenham had been lucky that the Inter finishing was pretty shoddy, but two minute from time they managed a shot on target as Klinsmann (a half-time sub after changing kit) scooped a pass through to Zanetti, whose shot was saved by Sullivan, with the ball going back to the Inter skipper who this time pulled a pass back to Kharja, who again squeezed the ball inside the keeper's left hand post to hand the Italian side a late, late winner.
Inter were probably worth their win, as they had plenty of chances and we were lucky that time had blunted some of their finishing ability. Legs and minds were perhaps working a little slower and that was true when it came to making some challenges. But the Italians looked in better shape and didn't have as many over-weight players as Tottenham, so were more able to get onto passes and get up and support the forwards. Spurs struggled in the second half and had to make a few extra substitutions because of tiredness and injury. It was sad to hear that Gascoigne had inflamed his Achilles during his training for the game and that Micky Hazard has popped his during the match, but both would do it all again, I am sure, just to have that moment in front of the White Hart Lane crowd and to savour the new surroundings that their current counterparts will be plying their trade in. Erik Thorstvedt's immediate retirement from playing straight after the game was tempered with the fact that he was obviously so proud to have taken part !
The emotion came through and the crowd responded. Half paced and half serious, but not half-hearted, the game proved to be a fine curtain-raiser for the main event on Wednesday, when a capacity crowd will be there to see the stadium's official opening.
It's been a long time coming, but now it is nigh.
Marco van Hip
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