Silva Bags Consolation For Kitchee As Spurs Win Challenge Cup
While they were unable to catch the injured trio of Danny Rose, Harry Winks and Erik Lamela in action, local Spurs fans were treated to an evening of entertaining football when Mauricio Pochettino opted to
While they were unable to catch the injured trio of Danny Rose, Harry Winks and Erik Lamela in action, local Spurs fans were treated to an evening of entertaining football when Mauricio Pochettino opted to name a strong starting lineup against Hong Kong Premier League champions Kitchee FC, which included the impressive Filip Lesniak who made a late debut in Tottenham’s win over Leicester last week.
Kitchee had the better of the opening ten minutes and the home side showed that they were not intimidated by their more illustrious opponents when Jared Lum and Lo Kwan Yee both tested Hugo Lloris with decent chances.
The home side nearly shocked Tottenham in the 12th minute and Spurs had Vincent Janssen to thank when the Belgian made a vital interception to boot Hélio’s headed effort off the line.
Son Heung-Min had the ball in the back of the net a minute later when he took down Christian Eriksen’s diagonal ball superbly before slotting it home but the South Korean international was flagged for a marginal offside call.
Eriksen then tried his luck shortly after but a deflection took some speed off the ball on its way through to Wang Zhenpeng, resulting in a routine stop for the Kitchee keeper – his first of many that evening.
Spurs carved out another chance in the 16th minute when Eriksen’s pass was blocked by Fernando Recio and Son curled the loose ball into the bottom corner beyond Wang’s outstretched arms from 20 yards.
Janssen doubled the tally barely four minutes later after Georges-Kévin Nkoudou’s low pass sliced through Kitchee’s defence to find Ben Davies on the left flank, who sent a low cross for the Dutchman to tap home from close range.
Matt Lam drove a powerful effort from distance which whistled past Lloris’s upright before the Tottenham skipper was taken off for Pau López to make his Spurs’ debut; the Spaniard had a frustrating season in England, having failed to play a single minute during Tottenham’s 2016 – 17 campaign while on loan from Espanyol.
Kitchee had a fast break in the 34th but failed to fashion a shooting chance and Tottenham launched a quick counter almost immediately after winning back possession. A neat exchange of passes between Janssen and Son should have been finished off by the Korean but Son was unfortunate to lose his footing at the crucial moment.
As is the norm in friendlies of this nature, the second half saw a flurry of Tottenham changes which ensured that all players picked up some game time with Dele Alli, Kieran Trippier, Will Mellor, Jan Vertonghen, Vincent Wanyama and Eric Dier all being introduced and by the end of the evening Kevin Wimmer was the only Spurs player who remained on the pitch throughout the entire match.
Kitchee came right back at Tottenham after the restart when López played a horrendous pass into the path of Alex Tayo Akande but the Hong Kong international’s touch was too heavy and the Spurs custodian redeemed himself immediately by smothering the ball before the Nigeria-born Alex could pull the trigger.
Spurs showed good play to close in on a third goal in the 53rd minute when Mellor picked out Son with a peach of a cross but the Korean could only muster a weak effort which Wang dealt with easily.
Janssen came close to doubling his personal tally when he cut inside and attempted a rasping drive just seconds later but Wang managed to pull off a tremendous save to help the ball onto the crossbar.
The Tottenham substitutes shone brightly after coming on and Trippier threatened Kitchee with his explosive bursts down the right flank. Wanyama had a chance in the 60th minute with a shot from range but a heavy deflection on the way through gave Wang sufficient time to re-adjust himself and pull off a stop.
Lopez’s appearance was cut short when he was replaced by Michel Vorm one minute later and the Dutch goalkeeper was called into action barely seconds later, keeping Alex out after Krisztián Vadócz cut off a dreadful pass from Vertonghen and threaded it to the Kitchee striker.
Pochettino elected to bring on his youngsters in the 68th minute and teenage striker Kazaiah Sterling nearly added one more for Tottenham when he forced Wang into another wonderful save off his thumping header.
Lam Ka Wai floated in a perfectly weighted pass over the top to Alex three minutes later and it took a superb challenge from Wimmer to deny the striker from 5 yards out.
Harry Kane came on to thunderous applause for Son in the 74th minute and he would get Tottenham’s third goal nine minutes later, latching on to Trippier’s return pass after starting a quick counter and blasting it beyond Wang’s reach.
Kitchee would bag a consolation goal in the 88th minute when Lam Ka Wai’s magnificent cross was nodded towards goal by Alex and substitute Lucas Silva took advantage of a defensive mix-up to bang it home but Sterling would display excellent composure to restore Tottenham’s three goal advantage three minutes later, tucking the ball under substitute keeper Guo Jianqiao to make it 4-1.
The post-season win sees Tottenham cap off a wonderful Premier League season where they finished second and went unbeaten at White Hart Lane in all competitions before it would be demolished to make way for the new stadium. For Kitchee, they can take heart from a spirited performance which saw players like Jared Lum, Matt Lam and Lo Kwan Yee put in tremendous effort to make Tottenham sweat for the win – Aaron Chan