Harry Winks’ late strike gave us a 1-0 victory over Atletico Mineiro in the morning’s semi-final but, having seen off their fellow Brazilian side Fluminense 1-0 in the group stage, we couldn’t repeat the trick as we met again for the silverware on Sunday afternoon – our opponents running out 2-0 winners.
Coach Matt Wells was pleased with what he saw from the players in our hard-earned semi-final victory, but admitted the final showing didn’t hit the same heights.
“The semi-final was another top game against very good opposition in Atletico Mineiro, who won their group convincingly, so we always knew it was going to be a big test,” he said. “We controlled large parts of the game, imposed our style very impressively and handled the match extremely well.
“It was a big disappointment in the end to lose the final, though. We’d made such a big effort in the morning but didn’t quite manage to emulate that intensity and aggression against Fluminense. We were a little bit sluggish at times, we never quite got into our rhythm and Fluminense had too much of the ball for our liking. Sadly we couldn’t fully impose ourselves on the game on the biggest stage, as we had done in the semi-final.”
There was a boost for us at the end of the competition, however, with midfielder Winks named Player of the Tournament.
“That was a massive plus,” added Matt. “Harry was excellent throughout the tournament and he’s come out of it with two goals as well, which is something we’ve been speaking about in terms of how it’s important not just to make goals but to score them too. His late goal in the semi-final epitomises what we’ve been saying this week in that the big players score at the big moments.
“Christian Maghoma in defence was excellent over the three days as well. He’s grown game-by-game and he’s making more headers, clearances and blocks than he ever has done. Harry Voss had a good tournament in goal and there have been other positive performances as well.”
Having qualified for the semi-finals via a second place finish in our group and once again playing 40-minute games on Sunday, we took on Atletico Mineiro in what was a match of few opportunities.
Josh Onomah forced a good save from the opposing goalkeeper 10 minutes in, but Winks couldn’t quite connect with the rebound as we reached the half-time interval without score.
Mid-way through the second half, Winks broke down the right and fizzed in a cross which evaded Ryan Loft but fell to Nathan Oduwa at the back post. The attacker couldn’t make the breakthrough, though, as he side-footed wide from six yards.
A cross-field pass caused us problems but led to the ball being fired wide as Atletico Mineiro tried to seize the upper hand, but it was our lads who finally found an opening with just 30 seconds of normal time remaining.
Onomah won the ball in midfield and fed Shayon Harrison, who skipped past a challenge and gave it back to Onomah. He slid the ball into the path of Winks, who had made a good run from deep, and the latter produced a fine finish from the edge of the box to seal a 1-0 victory.
Up against a tough Fluminense side in the final, we might have taken an early lead but for a defender on the back post who kept out Christian Maghoma’s header from a Winks corner.
The Brazilian side went in front on 18 minutes with a 25-yard shot that bobbled low along the ground and beat goalkeeper Harry Voss as he dived to his right, while another Maghoma header from a further Winks corner sailed over the bar as we sought an equaliser.
Fluminense wrapped the game up five minutes from time with a goal on the counter-attack, consigning us to a 2-0 defeat.
Spurs (vs Atletico Mineiro): Voss, Walker-Peters, Georgiou, Lesniak, Maghoma, Walkes, Oduwa (Muscatt 40), Winks, Loft (Sonupe 38), Onomah, Stylianides (Harrison 25).
Spurs (vs Fluminense – tournament final): Voss, Walker-Peters, Muscatt (Goddard 30), Lesniak (Stylianides 36), Maghoma, Walkes, Oduwa (Sonupe 36), Winks, Loft (Harrison 20), Onomah, Georgiou.