SUNDAY 10TH AUGUST, 2008
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 5 (3) A.S.ROMA 0 (0)
Bentley, 3, 45
Bent, 5, 54
Referee: - Phil Dowd
Attendance: - 35, 841
Spurs (4-4-2):- Gomes (sub Jansson, 74); Zokora (sub Gunter, 62), Dawson (sub King 57), Woodgate, Ekotto (sub Bale, 46); Bentley (sub Gilberto, 70), Jenas (Capt.) (sub OíHara, 70), Modric (sub Huddlestone, 57), Dos Santos; Bent, Berbatov (sub Lennon, 46)
(Armband to Ledley King)
Booked: - Zokora
Roma (4-4-2):- Artur; Cassetti, Mexes (sub Loria, 62), Juan (sub Andreoli, 75), Riise (sub Panucci, 46); Perrotta, Brighi (sub Esposito, 50), De Rossi (Capt.), Aquilani; Montella (sub Okaka Chuka, 46), Vucinic (sub Alvarez, 75)
Subs not used: - Pipolo; Virga, Mladen
Booked: - Cassetti, Aquilani
Sent off (second yellow):- Aquilani
Juande Ramosís Spurs side sent out a clear warning to the rest of the Premier League today with a convincing five-goal win against Serie A runners-up, and Italian Cup-winners Roma, who will once again be competing in the Champions League this season. Spurs got off to a great start with two goals in the first five minutes, but the scoreline must be tempered by the knowledge that Roma are much earlier in their pre-season programme than English sides, and also that the Italians can be held blameworthy for all three of Spurs first half goals. Nevertheless, this result was great ďRoma TherapyĒ in front of a packed house, who went away in the hope of a great season to come.
Ramos set his stall out with the strongest starting line-up available, with the injured Alan Hutton absent, and club captain Ledley King rested until the last half-hour. All four top line new signings were given a start, with David Bentley playing on the right and wooing the crowd with his third minute opener, direct from a free kick. Aaron Lennon knows he has a challenge to make the starting line-up, with Giovani Dos Santos starting on the left today.
The Italians included summer signing John Arne Riise, but he was replaced at half-time by International veteran full back Christian Panucci. Francesco Totti did not feature today, and has spent the summer recuperating from an injury sustained before the end of last season.
The Italian formation almost looked like a 4-2-2-2, with Brighi and skipper Daniele De Rossi in front of the back four, and Perrotta and Aquilani playing a more advanced midfield role. Montenegro striker Mirko Vucinic hung on the left of attack, and Montella (who has been on loan at Fulham and Sampdoria recently) playing more centrally. Thus the Italians seemed to be in some disarray, and went a goal down within three minutes. Bentley stepped up near the touchline to swing in a long free kick, and whilst Bent, Berbatov and the defence tried to get a touch, the ball flew into the net past Artur for a somewhat freakish home debut goal from Bentley, happy to lap up the Spurs support. How he, and his new fans must be looking forward to a certain London Derby later in the season!
In no time at all, Spurs were two up, and this time it was because Mexes made a poor back pass, allowing Darren Bent to steal the ball, move to the left of the defender and fire low past the despairing Artur for a dream start.
Now the visitors (playing in front of a very small travelling contingent) started to gain their composure, but as the game went on that composure was coupled with some uncompromising foul play which English referee was quick to punish. Bentley sent a free kick from the right too long after 22 minutes, and when Ekotto returned the ball towards the 6 yard area, Berbatovís header was directed straight at the keeper. Perrotta got the first Italian yellow card for cynically blocking Ekottoís run into the box, after Jenasís work. Shortly after that the ball was worked to Jenas down the left channel, and the skipper tried a left foot shot from an angle that landed on top of the net.
Finally Gomes had to make a save, and he was very alert to Vucinicís little run in the middle and a ball slipped to Aquilani, who tried to beat the big Brazilian keeper to his left, but was thwarted by Gomesís outstretched hand. Gomes did well to then hold Vucinicís header, but the Montenegran was offside anyway. In first half added time, Roma looked like amateurs as they failed to clear and gifted the ball to Bentley, who made a beautiful finish from 20 yards for that 3-0 scoreline.
Lennon replaced Berbatov and Gareth Bale replaced Ekotto at half-time. The Italians also made changes but were 4 goals down within five minutes following some good football from Bentley (now on the left side), who fed the ball to Dos Santos, playing a trick or two to take the ball to the bye-line and cut back to lay on an easy finish for Aaron Lennon. Spurs were five up in the 54th minute. Zokora won a corner on the right, which was taken by Bentley, flicked on from the middle of the packed area, finding Bent un-marked in front of goal for another easy finish! Bent might have got a hat-trick a minute later when he was on the end of another piece of scintillating play featuring Bentley, Modric and Lennon from left to right across the edge of the box. Lennon back-heeled a pass to Bent who was in space and might have done better, but saw his shot held.
Inevitably, the scoreline and the string of substitutions led to the game becoming less exciting, but there were some shenanigans in the south-east corner when Zokora was involved with Cassetti. Zokora might even have been lucky only to see yellow, but Cassetti certainly was, having already been shown Mr. Dowdís yellow card. The Spurs heroes got rousing cheers as they made way for replacements, and of course Ledley King got a fantastic reception. Ledley did look sharper than in his last outing, but the question does remain as to how much we will see of him this season.
All the Spurs squad got a game, including Oscar Jansson, and Jamie OíHara started a good move from deep in the middle, passing to Gilberto, whose ball to Bent led to a shot into the side netting. Aquilani did see red for two fouls within minutes of each other, both cynical upon Lennon. In the closing stages Ledley had a headed chance from Baleís delivery, but the ball passed wide of the far post.
It was of course a great Spurs day, giving every reason to look forward to Middlesbrough next Saturday and onward to an attacking and entertaining season. The defence will face sterner tests though.
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