With an assured performance against a Hull City side lacking any
persistent goal-scoring threat, Tottenham bagged the Premier League Asia
Trophy in Beijing thanks to two goals from captain Robbie Keane and a
late Aaron Lennon finish.
news of the death of former England and Ipswich Town manager Bobby
Robson cast a shadow over the proceedings and after a minute's silence,
the two teams lined up to face off for the Asia Trophy. Tottenham
had been impressive in beating West Ham, so needed a fast start and good
possession to let the humidity work against their opponents. The
opening exchanges were cagey, with both side lacking a cutting edge,
although Defoe and Keane almost linked up to open up the Hull defence,
but new signing Mouyokolo intervened to prevent any danger.
As on Wednesday, Aaron Lennon was finding
it to his liking out on the right wing, as he regularly skipped over the
challenge of Dawson, but his crosses, low into the six yard box, failed
to find a white shirted player running onto them. Keane and Modric
both found openings to shoot on goal, but their efforts were blocked out
and on the 15 minute mark, Lennon's drive was deflected, but popped up
at a good height for Tony Warner to knock it wide.
It was two minutes later that Tottenham
went ahead, with a well made goal. Assou-Ekotto nicked the ball
away from a Tigers forward and played it forward to Modric, who flighted
an inch perfect pass to Keane that dropped over the defender's head and
onto Keane's chest. Knocking it into his own path, Robbie took one
stride and hit a low dipping half volley that Warner failed to keep out
in much the same manner as Rob Green two days earlier. It was a
good value lead in the 17th minute and the passing and movement was
causing Hull to chase about in the heat.
Lennon and Defoe put a move together that
almost doubled the lead and then Tom Huddlestone, playing in central
defence, showed his naivety in playing there, with Daniel Cousin
dropping off him to take a diagonal ball into the box and then hit s
shot across Gomes. Luckily, he took a bit of pitch with his shot
and it went a good distance wide of the goal, but it should have served
as a warning. Defoe again was keeping the Hull defence occupied,
as Jenas' pass put him in, but he was denied by Warner's right hand and
then could only squeeze the ball past Warner and the keeper's post when
put in by Hud nearer half-time. In between, our goalie, Heurelho
Gomes, had been a virtual spectator, but was sharp when called upon to
stop Dean Marney cross-shot from 18 yards out and apart from one long
cross he came for and had to make a punch at, he looked at ease.
Chimbonda had a couple of headers from
corners, but never looked like threatening, while Defoe once more
threatened with a late shot that Zayatte managed to get something on to
Into the second half, Hull brought on
Geovanni to add to the fire-power up front and Spurs kept Chimbonda with
Hud in the middle of defence. Spurs worked the ball well through
Modric, who looks more and more like Ossie Ardiles in his movement and
passing these days.
While Spurs had ten minutes of dominance,
Hull got back into the game, as Spurs were guilty of a little
complacency and some passes started going awry. Former Spurs
midfielder Dean Marney found space on the right to hit shot from 5 yards
outside of the box, but his drive flew just wide. It was from two
corners that Gomes had to be sharp to keep Hull out. The first was
headed away to Geovanni, who slammed it back at goal and Zayatte,
standing right in front of Gomes and with his back to goal, tried to
head the ball on and forced the Brazilian to make a sharp save to
conceded another corner. From this, he made an even better stop,
with substitute Kevin Kilbane rising highest at the far post and Gomes
tipped his powerful header over the bar.
Gomes would have been helpless had
Zayatte been a forward and struck his volley powerfully at goal rather
than over the bar in the 65th minute. With Hull getting a
foot-hold in the game, it was ironic that Spurs got their second goal
just at the right time. Huddlestone had moved forward for a corner
and when the ball was cleared out, he gained possession and produced a
fine chip to put Jermain Defoe into the box and away from his marker.
Warner came out and as he dived at his feet, the little forward went
over him and Atkinson pointed to the spot.
Robbie Keane grabbed the ball and
stuttered in his run-up to send Warner diving and slotted the ball the
other way for 2-0. It was a goal that the first half performance
had deserved, but the second period perhaps saw the Tottenham team
struggle a little, with the bulk of the side having played the 90
minutes against West Ham.
Harry has started to ring the changes,
with Naughton on for Jenas, Hutton for Chimbonda and Livermore for
Wilson Palacios, who was spoken to by the ref for a number of fouls.
However, as it became more evident that Hull were not going to get
anything from the match, their players started to put in heavy
challenges on behind on Naughton, Keane, Lennon and Defoe - no doubt as
a warning ahead of the trip to the KC Stadium in August.
But if they thought that the sort of
strong-arm tactics Phil Brown employed at Bolton might scare Spurs into
timidity, they were wrong. Instead, it produced a passing movement
that almost brought about a goal for Livermore, as Hutton slipped him
into the area on the right side of the box, but the youngster tried to
square the ball for Keane, but it was cut out. Then an even better
move set Naughton away on the right and he slid a low pass across the
six yard box between keeper and defenders, who could not touch it for
fear of knocking it into their own goal, only for Aaron Lennon to run in
at the far post to knock the ball in left footed from his new position
on the left wing.
It was a simple goal, but one that too
often Spurs do not score, as they try to over-elaborate. May this
open the eyes of some of the players to the realisation that football is
a simple game.
I am sure Bobby Robson would have said
There was little to decry about the
showing today. Faced with a weak Hull City side, the Spurs players
did what they had to do and while the lack of urgency sometime sled to
the ball being turned over without any pressure, the side must realise
that when they return home, the two sides we played out here who
face us in two of our first three games at home, will be a much
different proposition then.
Harry was canny enough to get the
silverware in the bag to give the side some confidence, as he probably
thought this was more winnable than the Wembley Cup. And he said
after the game that he will field a number of players how haven't played
much in this tournament when Spurs move on to Hong Kong to face South
Again, not an indicator of what the
season holds, but a good showing and a cup for the trophy cabinet.
That will be one medal that Twiterrer in chief Darren Bent will have to
wait to add to his collection.