New Tottenham signing Ben Davies got his first start in a Spurs uniform and Erik Lamela scored a brace as Tottenham Hotspur defeated Toronto F.C. 3-2 in the second match of Spurs' preseason tour of North America.
A late Andros Townsend strike in the 85th minute put Spurs up for good as Mauricio Pochettino continued to tinker with his side in preparation for the upcoming EPL season. Old acquaintances were reunited as former Spur Jermain Defoe started for Toronto; former Spurs player Ryan Nelsen is also Toronto's head coach.
Erik Lamela was absolutely clinical in the first half, scoring two nearly identical goals from the left side of the box in the 17th and 41st minute to put Spurs up 2-0. Lamela was sharp, incisive, fluid, and showed glimpses of the kind of player that Spurs hoped they were getting when they paid £30m for him last summer.
Mauricio Pochettino swapped the entire team apart from Friedel at halftime, and the two sides couldn't have looked any different. The 2nd half looked like a 4-3-3 with Lewis Holtby, Tom Carroll, and Cristian Ceballos behind Iago Falque, Harry Kane, and Andros Townsend. Kyle Walker got his first action of the preseason at RB, Danny Rose filled in for Davies at LB, and Michael Dawson & Zeki Fryers subbed out Kaboul and Veljkovic.
Though Spurs looked good in the first half, the second half looked more like a team of leftovers asked to go out and have a run-around. There was little cohesiveness and even less communication on the pitch. Andrew Wiedeman scored in the 65th minute after catching Dawson ball watching, and Jordan Hamilton equalized for Toronto after another breakdown between Dawson & Fryers.
Andros Townsend lifted Spurs to victory with a beautiful curling shot in the top right corner in the 85th minute.
For friendlies, the best you can hope for is that players get fit and nobody gets injured. Mission accomplished. Spurs now head to Chicago to play their third and final match of the tour against the Chicago Fire at 7:00 p.m. ET Saturday evening. (Wave at me in the press box if you're there!)
Match Reactions (compiled from notes written by myself and Michael Caley):
– The first half's attacking four of Lamela, Eriksen, Lennon, and Soldado looked good. If that's the top half of the match when Spurs kick off against West Ham in three weeks, I won't be too disappointed. Lamela played in a free role with Azza and Eriksen buzzing around behind him finding gaps. It looked good.
– Ryan Mason put in a surprisingly good shift in the pivot alongside Etienne Capoue. He did not look overmatched or out of his depth. Not sure he will feature for the first team this year but he's probably good enough to get a high Championship or low Prem loan.
– Guys. You guys. GUYS. Erik Lamela is going to be REALLY GOOD. Squeeeeeee!
– Etienne Capoue had a good half, pushing forward a lot and winning a lot of aerial challenges.
– Spurs' midfield pressing was quite effective in the first half, limiting Toronto's passing by a significant margin. Less so in the 2nd half. (I wanna see Caley's stats on this.)
– No idea what Lewis Holtby was trying to do out there in the second half. Whatever it was, it wasn't working.
– Uncle Menno's notes say, and I quote, "Sell Michael Dawson to the glue factory." Or to, say, Leyton Orient. He is no longer good enough to play for Tottenham Hotspur, though it pains me to say it.
– Tom Carroll did not have a good match tonight. He looked disinterested, and looks much better when not stuck deep in the pivot. Needs a partner like Capoue or Sandro in the pivot.
– Harry Kane was a non-factor, but he wasn't getting any service.
– Pochettino's 2nd half lineup looked like he was throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. Which is, y'know, okay for a friendly.
– I don't think Ceballos gets this "pressing" thing. The difference in workrate between the advanced midfielders in the second half, compared to Lennon/Lamela/Eriksen is really striking.