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Spurs v AC Milan, 31.07.18

US Bank Stadium, Minneapolis
TUESDAY 31st JULY, 2018
7.30 pm (Local time)

Spurs scorer:-
Nkoudou, 47

Attendance:- 31,264

Referee:- Ismail Elfath
Assistants:- Art Arustamyan & John krill
Fourth official:- Chris Ruska

Spurs (4-3-2-1):- Vorm (Capt) (sub Gazzaniga, 46); Walker-Peters, Eyoma, Sanchez (sub Carter-Vickers, 90+2), Georgiou (sub Davies, 77); Marsh (sub Aurier, 77), Amos, Skipp; Lucas Moura (sub Eriksen, 63), Nkoudou; Llorente (sub Son, 63)

Llorente wore the captain’s armband in the second half and handed it to Eriksen when he came on.

Subs not used:- Whiteman

Booked:- Eyoma (foul on Cutrone)

AC Milan (4-2-3-1):- Reina (sub Donnarumma, 46); Abate (sub Antonelli, 69), Musacchio, Romagnoli (Capt.), Calabria; Kessie, Locatelli; Suso (sub Halilovic, 46), Borini (sub Kalinic, 69), Calhanoglu (sub Mauri, 77); Cutrone (sub Tsadjout, 77)

Subs not used included:- Tiago, Bonaventura, Silva, Zapata, Bonucci, Brescianni, Simic

Booked:- Mauri (foul on Walker-Peters), Kessie (foul on Nkoudou)

Score the winner? Nkoudou can do!

Of necessity, with an already weakened Spurs squad even more disadvantaged due to the absences of Wanyama, Lamela, and Sissoko, Mauricio Pochettino showed faith in his young players who were up against an AC Milan side coached by Gennaro Gattuso – he of the famous contretemps with Joe Jordan at the San Siro in February 2011.

Milan were the sharper team in the first half, and had it not been for the profligacy of their 20-year-old striker Patrick Cutrone, they might have had more than a one goal lead. Cutrone scored 10 Serie A goals in his break-out season last term and has already played a senior International for his country, and he was well supported by Suso on the right wing and Turkish International Calhanoglu, who was a genuine number 10.

Spurs held on in the first half though and took the lead early in the second when Georges-Kevin Nkoudou took full advantage of a poor infield pass by Calabria. Young players such as centre-back Timothy Eyoma, left back Anthony Georgiou, and midfielders Oliver Skipp, Luke Amos and George Marsh acquitted themselves well with Eyoma, Skipp and Amos playing the full 90 minutes (plus added time).

Milan started with one-time Liverpool goalkeeper pepe Reina in goal (now 35 and signed this summer from Napoli), and former Sunderland striker Fabio Borini playing behind Cutrone. They had Croatia Kalinic on the bench, famously sent home from Russia, who did get some game time in the second half.

The game started in true and tame friendly training game fashion. Milan were happy to fall back and practice their defensive football, whilst Spurs dominated the early possession without making any significant breakthrough. Llorente hardy had a touch all the time he was on the pitch. Marsh and Amos were the more defensive midfielders with Skipp moving forward more often.

It was the Italian side who had the first real threat though as Vorm came out to the feet of Borini. Georgiou had a nice run in an advanced position, but his cross went straight to the hands of Reina. Calhanoglu sent a good ball to Suso on the right and the Spaniard’s cross went deep into dangerous territory towards the Spurs 6-yard box, but too far ahead of Cutrone.

Suso was the provider again – this time for Kessie, who fired well over from the edge of the box. Luke Amos snatched a chance taking the ball off the toes of a Milan defender, hitting the shot just wide of Reina’s right post. Milan countered with a short cross from the right of the box by danger man Suso, headed down by Cutrone. Vorm saved well, diving to his right before Eyoma was fouled as he cleared.

At the other end, Lucas Moura offered a ball to the advancing Walker-Peters with a nice flick. Kyle’s cross was only half cleared to the feet of Amos whose soft shot ran easily into Reina’s hands.

Calabria crossed from the left and Cutrone headed wide across goal when he should have done better. Kessie then had a left footed shot which took a slight deflection to win a corner. The corner was cleared by Skipp, only to the feet of Calabria, who fired over. Kessie fed Suso on the right, who hit another dangerous cross which just ran past the far post and out for a goal kick. Suso returned the favour, but Kessie over-hit his cross/shot. Cutrone was unable to reach a good ball by Calhanoglu hit from the left channel.

Paulo Gazzaniga came out at the start of the second half, and Fernando Llorente wore the armband, at least until he was replaced by Son, and Eriksen took over from Lucas Moura.

Spurs took the lead within two minutes of the restart. Calabria hit a poor ball, in from the left side of defence and Nkoudou took full advantage hitting a powerful left footed drive. Reina had also been replaced by a 19-year-old keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma. He got his fingertips to Nkoudou’s shot but could only push the ball into the roof of the net.

Spurs were showing more bite in the second half, no doubt inspired by their manager at half-time. Oliver Skipp covered Cutrone well after a short threaded pass by Calhanoglu. The Turkish International then had a good shot well saved by Gazzaniga who held the follow-up by Kessie.

Eyoma was show what seemed a harsh yellow card for a foul on Cutrone, and Calhanoglu’ s free kick went wide of Gazzaniga’s right post. Another poor ball by Calabria gave Nkoudou another chance, this time with his right foot from the right of the area, saved by Donnarumma with his legs at the expense of a corner. When Antonelli replaced Abate, Calabria moved to the right of the defence. Nkoudou had another half chance after a mistake at the back, but he just over-ran the ball allowing Donnarumma to block and concede a corner.

Ben Davies and Serge Aurier came on for Georgiou and Marsh, and Spurs reverted to a back three (Aurier, Sanchez and Eyoma) with Walker-Peters and Davies acting as wing-backs. Walker-Peters had been advancing down the right flank consistently in the second half anyway.

The frustration of the Italian side began to show as substitute Mauri and midfielder Kessie both saw yellow for fouls on Walker-Peters and Nkoudou respectively.

Spurs sought to hold that lead for victory, but towards the end of the game had an escape when Antonelli hit a poor cross too far in front of Kalinic. Antonelli was the provider again, this time for Mauri, who sliced his right foot shot wide of the far post.

Spurs’ US tour ends with two wins and a draw (defeat on penalties) with a severely under-strength squad. Next stop for Mauricio’s men is Girona in Spain for a final pre-season friendly on Saturday.

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