The return of Helder Postiga was
greeted with a mixture of boos and cheers, but it was his replacement
who stole the show with two lobs of precision and coolness that saw
off the Portuguese friendly opposition.
But more than that, this game was
notable for the Spurs debut of Edgar Davids, the club's new free
transfer midfielder. Cheers rang out for him when he came out
for the pre-match warm-up, when he ran up and down the touchline and
finally when he made his entrance on the hour, when he received a
standing ovation as he ran onto the grass of the White Hart lane
pitch, which he touched as he set foot on it for the first time.
The game started with our former
striker hitting a shot from distance that went well over the top and
his day rarely got any better, as his ex-team-mate Anthony Gardner
insisted in kicking him over every time Postiga came near him.
Helder's partner up front was the lively Benni McCarthy, who has
attracted admiring interest from English clubs. including Tottenham in
the past. His movement and control mark him out as a dangerous
forward and when he took up a far post position to meet Lisandro's
long right wing cross, his header was powerful and on target.
Unluckily for him, the returning Paul Robinson was equal to it.
Covering the distance across his goal, he met the header with his
forearms to keep the ball out in the eighth minute.
Jermain Defoe was out to prove that he
could be equally as effective when he took the ball off Jorge Costa in
the 10th minute and ran at Baia. He jinked left and right before
putting his shot to the Porto keeper's right, but although Baia had
gone the other way, he stuck out a leg to keep the ball out.
Mido fashioned a scissor kick at a Carrick cross and missed by only a
couple of yards and McCarthy produced the same piece of skill, after
chesting the ball up, but was about four feet closer than our Egyptian
Wayne Routledge was finding some joy on
the right wing, with passes releasing him to use his searing pace on
the Porto defence. When Carrick lifted the ball over the
defence, Wayne latched onto it, but as he got to the edge of the
penalty area, he hit a shot that flew well wide of the goal. One
aspect of our defence that has been noticeable in the last few games
of last season and the pre-season matches this time around, is the
determination of our defenders to block the ball. Michael Dawson
in particular has been a fine exponent and produced another brave
block to stop McCarthy's drive reaching Robbo.
Spurs were settling a bit better now
and passing the ball well between each other. Sometimes there
was a bit of over-confidence on the ball, with some of the defenders
taking the extra touch that let Porto players close them down or nick
the ball off them. However, most of the time, Robinson threw or
kicked the ball out short to defenders and the passing began from the
back. One such move ended up with Andy Reid skipping away on the
left and putting in a low cross in across the face of goal, but there
was nobody to turn it in. McCarthy was having to make a few of
his own chances and he chested (hand-balled ?) down a long pass and
smashed an immediate shot in on goal, but it hit the top tier of the
Paxton Road end. He did manage to get his shot on target three
minutes prior to the break, but his effort had been anticipated by
Robinson, who had come out to narrow the angle and blocked the shot
Porto had not come to be idle
by-standers as Spurs went about their job. They showed good
understanding and great skill in their play, but there was also an
underlying physicality about their approach that sent out the message
that they would not be bullied on the pitch. Luckily for Spurs,
we had Tainio and Stalteri to start and they both demonstrated that
they are not shrinking violets in the tackling department. Both
are strictly from the "take no prisoners" school of football
and on another day might have seen yellow from the ref.
The break saw Porto make three changes,
while Spurs chose only to replace Robbo with Cerny. A lethargic
start to the second half saw Porto take the initiative. Too many
corners and free-kicks around the area were conceded, leading to the
need for us to defend, with Mido called back to add to the aerial
presence in the box. Luckily, the only opportunity for our
opponents was a long drive from Lucho that went high over the bar.
As the hour approached a Reid cross
picked out Mido's head at the far post and as he looped is back
towards the way the keeper had come from, Baia was able to collect the
Then it happened. The number 11
was held up and the number 14 (for the purposes of this game) against
it meant the introduction of Edgar Davids. He got a rapturous
welcome and seemed to enjoy the attention. That is not something
that the Porto players could say when he turned that attention to them
!! "Pit bull" by nickname, pit bull by nature.
Some of his tackles were "tasty" and would have had Terry
"Meat-hook" Naylor roaring his approval, but in today's
game, he might find referees not so appreciative !! One that got
one of their players just above the sock was particularly
dangerous. But with some players in the side who are not afraid
to put it about, Spurs will no longer be the soft touch that they have
so long been regarded as.
With Keane and Kanoute coming on for
Routledge and Mido, Jol changed the formation to 4-3-3, with Davids,
Tainio and Carrick in midfield. The tactic appeared to work, as
the right back Stalteri pushed on and Edman would have been willing to
do so if required, but Defoe dropped out left on occasion. Ten
minutes after Davids came on, he nearly had the crowd in seventh
heaven. Out on the left wing himself, he got his foot around a
pass that bounced up and hit a cross-cum-shot that had Baia back-pedalling
to punch the ball over the bar, when it looked like it might drop just
underneath. It was to prove only to delay the Spurs goal that
had been promised, but had failed to be delivered.
Seventy-two minutes gone and Carrick
picked out a run by Defoe into the left hand channel and Jermain's
quick thinking put the ball looping over the stranded Baia, who had
strayed too far off his line. It was a finish of great
simplicity, but of rapid decision making and that is what makes
strikers great. The move had started a long way back with Fredi
laying the ball off to Stalteri, who fed it infield to Carrick and the
passing was accurate and well weighted. Davids was one of the
first to congratulate him in a piece of team-bonding that has
developed very quickly.
The play swung back the other way and
it was soon Cerny who was in action, as he flopped on a deflected
Peixoto free-kick, but in the 85th minute Defoe struck again to seal
the win. This time it was Tainio who picked him out with a left
foot pass and from a similar position, Baia was on the edge of his box
and Defoe's lofted shot was way over him and in the net before he
could turn. Instinct from a master predator and one which bodes
well for the coming season.
With Keano getting a boot on the thigh
from Emanuel, he was not best pleased ... refusing the hand of apology
and the Porto defender got a stern ticking off for kicking Robbie
after he had nicked the ball off the central defender.
All in all a packed house enjoyed their
afternoon in the sun and the half hour that Davids performed was
hopefully a cameo of what we can expect from him in a Spurs shirt this
season. The whole team looked bright and sharp, with a special
mention for Fredi and Teemu. Both showed outrageous skills on
the ball, with flicks and control, which made the Porto defenders look
silly. Even Erik Edman was performing back-heels, so maybe Spurs
will be the "Entertainers" this season !!
MEHSTG TOP MAN :
- JERMAIN DEFOE