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Perfect end to memorable trip!

Posted on 23 July 2011  - 12:00

A 3-0 victory over Orlando Pirates at Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg, gave us our first win of pre-season and the 2011 Vodacom Challenge title.

A 3-0 victory over Orlando Pirates at Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg, gave us our first win of pre-season and the 2011 Vodacom Challenge title.

A Rafael van der Vaart double either side of half-time and Jermain Defoe’s late strike made the scoreline look comfortable despite the South African champions missing a host of chances.

Nonetheless, it means our second successive Challenge win after we were also successful on our last visit to the country in 2007.

The match saw the return to action of Steven Pienaar after his injury lay-off, with Kyle Walker, Peter Crouch and Heurelho Gomes also making their first starts of pre-season.

It was a cagey opening 10 minutes before Pirates squandered their first of a number of great opportunities in the first half.

Gomes was out quickly to deny Tlou Segolela after Oupa Jali spread the play, and from the resulting corner Thulasize Mbuyane planted a free header wide.

Crouch was also guilty of wasting a chance at the other end soon after when he got on the end of Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s cross but put over the bar.

However, the better chances were falling to Pirates, with Mbuyane again the culprit of putting a free header wide after Segolela had done well to beat Walker on 22 minutes.

Seven minutes later, an opportunity fell to Bongane Ndulula after more good work from Segolela, but he could do little better than his strike partner, firing over from inside the box.

So the Bucs were left to rue those missed chances when we took the lead against the run of play on 34 minutes.

Aaron Lennon won a free-kick 20 yards out, and there was little question who would step up to take it after his effort against the same opposition on Tuesday night.

Van der Vaart curled this effort inside Senzo Meyiwa’s near post and it’s fair to say the keeper would have been a touch disappointed not to stop that one.

Pirates tried to respond through Ndulula but he could only squirm a shot wide two minutes before the break after latching onto Segolela’s throughball.

So we were no doubt happy to go into half-time 1-0 up, and there was to be a much improved performance in the second half.

Defoe, Niko Kranjcar, Wilson Palacios and Alan Hutton were all introduced and it didn’t take long before we doubled our lead.

Assou-Ekotto’s ball put Van der Vaart clean through on goal. His first shot was saved well by Meyiwa but the Dutchman cleverly lifted the rebound over the grounded goalkeeper’s head.

Cue a much more relaxed display, although Gomes was forced into a smart save from Segolela at his near post after Sameehg Doutie had played him in on 69 minutes.

It looked like we made it three moments later when Gareth Bale volleyed home with his first touch after replacing Luka Modric following Hutton’s cross and Defoe’s flick on, but the Welshman was flagged offside.

He threatened again soon after but was thwarted at his feet by Meyiwa having been released by Kranjcar.

Pirates were, however, given a golden opportunity to get themselves back in the game 10 minutes from time when they were awarded a penalty after Segolela’s cross struck the arm of Sebastien Bassong.

But it was the winger who stepped up and, despite sending Gomes the wrong way, struck the post with his spot-kick.

Gomes was then forced into a flying save by Rudolf Bester, Happy Jele headed wide the resulting corner, and Mark Mayambela also headed over before the game was put beyond doubt with two minutes remaining.

It was Bale at his best with a typical raiding surge down the left flank, leaving defenders in his wake, before delivering the perfect cross that put the goal on a plate for Defoe at the back post, and the striker made no mistake.

Spurs (4-4-1-1): Gomes; Walker (Hutton, 46), Khumalo, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon (Pavlyuchenko, 59), Huddlestone (Palacios, 46), Modric (Bale, 70), Pienaar (Kranjcar, 46); Van der Vaart; Crouch (Defoe, 46)

Goals: Van der Vaart (34, 52), Defoe (88)

Pirates (4-3-3): Meyiwa; Jele, Sangweni (Johannes, 63), Lekgwathi (Mahamutsa, 63) Cloete (Thwala, 68); Segolela (Mabena, 88), Jali (Ngobeni, 81), Manyisa, Klate (Bester, 63); Ndulula (Mayambela, 60), Mbuyane (Doutie, 46)

Attendance: 38,777