SUNDAY 10TH AUGUST, 2003
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0) SPORTING LISBON 0 (0)
Referee:- Alan Wiley
Spurs (3-5-2):- Keller; Mabizela (sub Doherty, 72), Bunjevcevic, Gardner; Carr, Davies (sub Marney, 79), Redknapp (Capt), Ricketts (sub Poyet, 60), Taricco; Keane, Postiga (sub Zamora, 60)
Subs not used:- Burch; Perry, Kelly; Jackson, Acimovic
Sporting Lisbon (4-3-2-1):- Ricardo; Garcia, Beto Severo (Capt), Hugo (sub Polga, 46), Custodio; Clayton (sub Tello, 46), Pinto, Rui Jorge (sub Tonito, 63); Luis Filipe (sub Laurenco, 81, Rochemback (sub Quiroga, 46); Silva
On the day when British temperature records went through the 100 degree (Fahrenheit) mark to create a new record, Spurs rounded off their pre-season programme with possibly their best technical display so far. Despite the searing heat, they upped the tempo sufficiently to put the visitors (who this week had beaten Man Utd 3-1) on the back foot for much of the first half. Understandably, after the break, energy levels were sapped to a great degree, and the game did not have the number of exciting incidents as in the first period.
In fact, the visitors came closest to scoring with a last minute free kick, which bounced down off the underside of Keller's bar, but thankfully bounced outward to safety.
Spurs are famously missing a few regulars through injury, and who knows which of them, if any, will be fit for the opening Premiership match at St. Andrews next Saturday? One thing is certain though - Rohan Ricketts has done enough to prove he would be more than a capable replacement. Ricketts was a dynamo, winning the ball in the middle, making determined and winning runs, gaining ground, getting to the left flank, and crossing the ball into the danger zone for Robbie Keane and Helder Postiga. Little wonder that he received a rapturous ovation when he was replaced by Gus Poyet on the hour.
The other notable receptions by the home crowd were for the home debut of Bobby Zamora (replacing Postiga on 60 minutes), and Mbulelo "Old John" Mabizela, who started and was replaced by Gary Doherty late in the game. This opposition suited the Spurs defence, as there was no big target man, but plenty of mobility. Mabizela, Bunjevcevic and Gardner were able to match that movement, and Bunjevcevic found time to spring out of defence to make some decent forward balls. Mabizela was efficient without exciting, and the only errors I can recall were in the second half when he committed himself to tackle too early twice. Once he was rescued by the offside flag, and the other by his colleagues. Zamora had less time to make an impression, but did enough to show he is not going to be out of his depth at the top level, with some clever touches.
The Spurs team wore black armbands, and there was a minute's silence for the passing of Jimmy Davis and Ray Harford this week-end. Sporting Lisbon had brought a good number of supporters, and the silence got off to a false start, presumably because they did not understand the language and the announcement made.
I took the opportunity to sit near the directors' box, and it was great to see THE Spurs legend "Sir" Bill Nicholson take his seat.
The visitors' formation was fluid, but in general terms they tended to play 4-3-2-1, although at times it looked as if they had 5 across the back, with Postiga and Keane being tracked very carefully. Spurs made an excellent start, with Carr getting forward combining with Robbie Keane. After 3 minutes, Keane deceived two men and got into the box, crossing to the back post, where Taricco of all people rose and powered a header towards goal. Ricardo had to be sharp to hold the ball, and in fact he took two goes whilst Postiga swooped to pick up the scraps.
After 12 minutes, Taricco passed inside the Captain Jamie Redknapp, whose low shot was deflected and saved by Ricardo. Carr ran over a free kick on the right, and Bunjee stepped up to test the keeper with his left foot shot. Postiga again was ready to pounce. After 15 minutes, Postiga could not quite reach Taricco's cross, and the ball landed at Carr's feet. The right-back, looking more eager today, fired over with his rushed effort.
The Keane-Carr teamwork was prominent in another move down the right, ending in a Davies shot, which went over the bar. Good work by Postiga in the middle allowed Carr to send him away with a quick ball. Postiga was round his man, and raced into the box. He seemed to have been brought down, but Mr. Wiley waved the appeals away. Postiga was at the back post to glance another Bunjevcevic free kick, but he glanced it just too wide. It was Bunjee that released Ricketts for a good run which led to a corner for Spurs.
At last Lisbon threatened Keller's goal. They built strongly from a free kick and Keller was down well to Clayton's powerful shot from 25 yards. The Lisbon keeper was similarly able to save Rickett's low shot, after Davies had set him up. Then, just before the break, the visitors' captain Beto Severo, went on a blistering run, only to be brought down on the edge of the area. Rochemback's shots were blocked twice from the free kick.
The second half seemed to be more about the substitutions really, as the football was less exciting. It has to be said though, that in a league game, there would have been plenty of yellow cards around, especially for Lisbon, who were forever tripping Redknapp and Keane to name just two of their regular victims. Taricco was easy to wind up of course, and mid-way through the half, there was even a brief melee started when Taricco took a dislike to some treatment meted in his direction.
Three minutes after the break, a questionable corner had been awarded against Taricco, which was floated over by substitute Quiroga. The ball went between Keller and the defence (and the attack, thankfully), and drifted out of play. After Poyet and Zamora came on, Spurs reverted to a four at the back, with Bunjevcevic playing in front of the 4 and behind Redknapp and Poyet, who played some neat football in the middle. Jamie Redknapp was on form today, and hardly missed a pass, most of which were across the park. Sadly too many of the attacks he started broke down through Davies or Keane, whose tricks were not always working today.
Once Gary Doherty was on the pitch, he was a busy boy, and made some startling saving tackles. Firstly Tonito and Laurenco got past the rest of the defence, and it was only thanks to Gary's interception that the move broke down. Then Doherty forced a Silva attempt away, but the ball did run to Laurenco, whose shot was beaten away by Kasey Keller.
In the last minute, Spurs nearly lost the game, when Beto Severo stepped up to hit a 22 yard free kick, which struck the underside of the bar and bounced away to safety.
Now for the real thing, next Saturday at 12 noon!
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